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Nice and Easy does it

06 June 2014

Pick-it-Easy workstations and pick-to-light technology form key parts of a €60m automated DC for tool supplier.

To accommodate planned growth and maintain its position as global market leader in the supply of industrial fastenings, construction materials and tools, Adolf Würth invested in a new distribution centre in Künzelsau, Germany. For this EUR 60 million project, Würth chose KNAPP to design and implement an automated logistics solution.

The company is active in more than 80 countries with some 64,000 employees. With sales for the first half of the business year 2013 totalling EUR 4.9 billion and a product range comprising more than a million items, the Würth Group’s operations are vast.

The group’s most modern and efficient logistics centre is based in Künzelsau, some 60 miles northeast of Stuttgart. The facility, which went live in spring 2013, boasts a storage area of 17,000 square metres – accommodating some 100,000 containers and 6,000 pallet loads – and can process up to 60,000 order lines per day. The new distribution centre features some five miles of conveyor and was connected to the existing warehouse at the site without interruption to ongoing operations.

At the heart of the new logistics system is KNAPP’s proven OSR Shuttle technology. In fact, the solution features two OSR Shuttle systems – one for order picking and one which functions as a dispatch buffer. Incoming goods are depalletised, placed in containers that can weigh up to 50kg and stored fully automatically in the picking OSR Shuttle. This automated store features 252 shuttles operating in nine aisles and storing containers two-deep. When an order is received, the corresponding container makes the short journey to one of 15 ergonomically designed Pick-it-Easy workstations, where the goods are selected via pick-to-light technology and placed into cartons. 

Key Points

• 17,000 square metres.

• 100,000 containers.

• 6,000 pallet loads.

• Processes up to 60,000 order lines per day.

The cartons of picked goods then proceed to the manual packing area or directly to the automated packing area where void-filling material, dispatch documents and invoices are added, before lids and labels are automatically applied. The second OSR Shuttle system – which features 96 shuttles, operating in 12 aisles and storing cartons two-deep – is used as dispatch buffer for the picked cartons. When an order is released for dispatch, the corresponding cartons are retrieved from the buffer OSR Shuttle store and transported to the goods-out area in the correct sequence. Four fully automatic pallet cells complete the process by stacking the cartons on a pallet according to an optimal pattern.

KNAPP was also tasked with implementing SAP EWM as the warehouse management system and worked with its partner, SALT Solutions GmbH, to achieve this. A key factor in the successful delivery of the new logistics system for Würth was the decision by KNAPP to pool the know-how of employees worldwide who had been involved in solutions for Würth, thereby creating a highly experienced project team.