Growing order volumes in the logistics industry require increasingly powerful warehouse technologies that can both increase the efficiency and quality of the processes carried out and reduce operating costs. In 2020, a project team was established in Poland to implement technological improvements that would increase efficiency within the goods picking process. After several months of intensive work and the start of collaboration with SSI SCHAEFER, the team succeeded in launching the Weasel® project for one of our customers from the fashion industry.
This warehouse technology is based on transport automation between the picking and packing areas, which makes the picking process more efficient. The employees in the picking area no longer have to walk for kilometres to bring a finished order to the packing area, as this is now done for them by the automatically controlled vehicles.
A system of lanes was established in the warehouse along which the so-called Weasels® vehicles navigate.
Ten "loading bays" were installed along the route, where an employee can place his bins filled with products and pick up empty bins, which are also transported by the self-propelled vehicles. The transport lanes were arranged in several loops so that the Weasels® can take the shortest possible route and thus significantly reduce the transport time.
Strong performance for a smooth process
With one battery charge, the Weasel® can achieve operating times of over a dozen hours. Furthermore, thanks to additional battery packs, the system is able to operate continuously. The Weasel® moves at a speed of approximately 1 m/s, and the system is also safe from collisions thanks to being equipped with a sensor system that stops the vehicle before it hits an obstacle.
The operation of the Weasel® is controlled by a computer throughout, which monitors the routes travelled, displays the battery charge status and also informs about emerging traffic problems such as an obstacle in the form of an abandoned picking trolley.
Optimised processes through shorter walking distances
To pick the products, the worker uses a barcode scanner and a special picking trolley that allows him to pick several batches of products at once.
The system selects the batches so that the picker is guided through a minimum number of warehouse sectors and finally takes the shortest possible route.
When the picking process of a particular container is completed, the picker goes to the nearest loading bay, scans the barcodes and exchanges the full container for an empty one, then the system automatically activates the self-propelled vehicles.
Once all the products in a particular batch have been transported, they are consolidated, followed by PTL and packing processes.
The advantages are obvious
- Increasing efficiency in the product picking process
- Shortening and optimising walking routes
- Elimination of printed picking lists
- Flexibility with regard to the scalability of the transport system (increase in the number of lanes, vehicles, loading bays)
- Security of the logistical processes