Logistics 4.0 in practice. How did Lean-Lift facilitate the logistics at Bury Technologies
Bury Technologies is a well-known manufacturer of electronic accessories for car interiors. Upon thoroughly modernizing its logistics base in Poland, the company focused on automation and high storage.
Bury provides headsets, phone holders with battery and antennae features, automatic alarm systems as well as vehicle monitoring systems, amongst others. Such solutions enter the original equipment market, but also constitute components of car retrofitting.
The company’s production facilities, as well as its distribution units, are located in Germany, in Great Britain as well as in South-Eastern Poland (in Mielec and Rzeszów). The largest facility is located in Mielec. It handles production and logistics operations. The range of products is constantly expanding, which – as the company asserts – is not always accompanied by actions aimed at optimizing the functioning of logistics processes.
Before deploying new solutions, the logistics base consisted of six sections of traditional racks, tool warehouse, a section for storing laminates and SMD reels. With growing storage volumes, the „Achilles heel” arose in the form of quite complex management of raw materials in accordance with the principles of FIFO (first in, first out).
Assuming an increase in movement of goods, the company decided to remodel its internal logistics. It clearly specified that the new solution should be based on automation as well as provide adequate flexibility and adaptability in terms of size and the amount of goods.
Such a choice, thanks to the implementation of high storage, can significantly save the available space. Another benefit is the possibility to relieve the operators so as to allow them to focus more on important activities than finding the location of specific goods.
It was also important to reduce internal transport in the factory logistics.
Lean-Lift technology maximally used available space
One of the most important priorities was to introduce a modular system, which gives the opportunity to develop and transform the system in the future, for example by transferring part of the modules from the department used for storing semi-finished products to the quality control department. The company examined a number of possibilities of individual storage systems (storage and retrieval machines; miniload; traditional roller shelves, Lean-Lift). A list of pros and cons was drawn up. It was considered, for example, that the roller shelves did not ensure the possibility to quickly adapt to changes in packaging/layers, high storage could not be used either and the degree of use of space turned out to be unsatisfactory. In turn, storage and retrieval machines and miniloads allowed to use the height of the rooms but were not flexible when it comes to possible system modification, division or creation of two from one as well as sales of used components.
Thus, the company decided in favor of Lean-Lift technology. It allowed, on one hand, to use the full height of the room, and on the other – to relieve the operators. At the same time, it does not require any internal means of transport.
Automatic Lean-Lift racks are based on a moving feeder, the function of which is to pick or place movable shelves with goods in target storage locations within the rack. The shelves may be placed on the front and rear wall of the rack in guide rails spaced few centimeters apart. An access window with an ensemble of photocells is placed at the level of the operator. Therefore, the desired item, along with the specific shelf, is placed in the access window thus allowing the operator to pick it up easily.
The role of the photocells is to determine the maximum height of the item on the shelf and hence reserve the exact space it needs. In case of products with different height, the system gives a large storage density (reduction of space). The shelves can be pulled from the rack, serving as a palette and allowing to pick more than one product at a time.
Where is it worth using Lean-Lift?
Lean-Lift works well in the distribution industry as well as storage: spare parts, tools, dies, components and finished products. It can be used in buffer fields (intermediate storage), in special premises (e.g. laboratories). In fact, Lean-Lift uses the available height of rooms in a similar manner as a high storage warehouse and multi-level systems. The difference is that Lean-Lift racks adjust the distance between the shelves up to the height of stored goods without wasting space.
Finally, elements of the system turned into:
– section for storing laminates and SMD reels,
– separate warehouse for electronic components with high security standards, including electrostatic protection;
– five Lean Lift racks for components for production (over 6 m, designed to work with external software, with increased operating speed and additional protection of operators)
– two Lean Lift racks with anti-electrostatic protection only for electronic components (automatic racks adapted for storing sensitive materials, such as SMD reels, or other media of small electronic components used in production).
There is also a Lean-Lift rack dedicated to the storage of tools, not subject to the ESD protection regimes. Due to the different mode of operation and the shape of logistics processes, it has been excluded from the main control mode provided for the main part of the installation.
The system accepts orders from the ERP management program, queues and allocates tasks by particular processes has the function of „hold”, releases the individual stock to external databases.