The logistics specialists at Würth Elektronik are faced with the challenge of error-free picking of components at a fast pace, with the possibility of ordering even the smallest quantities of one article. This is important especially in the context of turnover increase by several dozen percent. In order to meet this challenge, it was necessary to increase the throughput of the warehouse and the efficiency of the intralogistics.
Würth Elektronik is a manufacturer of electrical and electromechanical components based in Lyon. It strives to execute orders very quickly. Currently, domestic shipments are delivered within 24 hours. They reach customers in other European countries within 48 hours and customers in other continents within 72 hours. In practice, 98% of shipments are shipped on the day of the order, and the percentage of returns associated with incorrect picking does not exceed 0.08%.
Achieving such parameters was possible thanks to the unique organization of the supply chain in the complex central warehouse, commissioned several months ago.
See how the Würth Elektronik warehouse in France was built:
The business model of Würth Elektronik provides for continuous expansion and diversification of the customer portfolio thanks to its high degree of flexibility – with no lower order volume limits. Even single pieces of a given product can be ordered, and small and medium companies are, as a result, recipients of 90-95% of the production volume, which allows the minimization of the risk of significant losses due to the termination of cooperation with one large partner.
The adopted way of operation requires, however, having a very wide assortment of 6,500 items in stock and a storage space capable of accommodating all this.
Automatic conveyors have shortened the routes of warehouse trucks.
The situation in recent years has been dynamic. Compared to 2012, the distribution centre’s order picking zone was extended from 1,500 to 2,500 sq.m. while the warehouse space was extended from 1,000 to 3,500 sq.m. The warehouse can accommodate 9,000 pallet spaces.
In order to achieve maximum storage density, 10.5 m high racks were used. However, in order not to lengthen the routes of forklift trucks by extending the warehouse, it was decided to use automatic conveyors, limiting the distances covered by transport vehicles and maintaining the FIFO (First in, First Out) principle, according to which the items that came first leave the warehouse first.
VNA trucks are used to handle goods on the racks, while the picking is carried out using reach trucks.
The high bay racks are handled by two STILL MX-X stacker trucks with OptiSafe system to reduce the maximum lift height in specific, potentially hazardous locations. Information about the position of the vehicle is read from transponders placed on the floor. Additionally, they are also equipped with reversing cameras, adjusting the angle width to the speed of driving, and laser obstacle detectors. Incoming and outgoing pallets are placed on the conveyor or taken from it by reach trucks FM-X 10 which are also able to reach for loads on the mezzanine created as an additional buffer zone,” says Rafał Pańczyk, advanced applications manager at STILL Polska.
Both reach trucks and VNA trucks can be used in new spaces without hindrance and transponders can be easily reprogrammed if needed.
When expanding the centre, a spare space of 4,800 sq.m was kept.
This means that we can be sure of 4-5 years of operation without having to add more space or modify our intralogistics processes,” says Sebastien vom Scheidt, supply chain manager at Würth Elektronik.