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In the production plant of Continental in Mexico, an automated solution was applied. Automated warehouse boxes or trays storage system proves its worth where it is necessary to store large quantities of products of diversified assortment.

The companies from the Continental Group are mostly known as the producers of tyres, but also as the manufacturers of other rubber and plastic sub-assemblies. Among others, they produce timing belts, fan belts and vibration dampers.

Apart from the automotive industry, those parts are also used in, e.g. mining, aviation industry, and also in the printing industry. However, in the production plant Planta Periférico production plant in Guadalajara, other kinds of products, namely electronic parts, and car accessories, are made. These include, e.g. control panels and management systems applied in cars, multi-function displays, access control systems and tyre information systems, radio devices, air conditioners, software, cockpits, and also many tools applied in telematic services and intelligent transportation systems. The regular customers of the concern include, among others, BMW, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, and also Volvo.

Stacker crane for boxes improves order processing

For storing thousands of small assortment pieces, a warehouse system which would also improve the order preparation process is needed. An automated warehouse was chosen, and supplied by Mecalux.

The warehouse consists of two corridors with double depth racks on both sides. Each of the racks, 22 m long and 9 m wide, is divided into 20 levels. The entire set can hold 3,460 boxes with a size of 400 x 600 mm.

In each corridor, there is an automated stacker crane for boxes, with systems ensuring ergonomics and the safety of work so as to facilitate daily device operation, and also its maintenance. The system is controlled with the use of a software, which records the distribution of all materials in the warehouse, and keeps a real-time inventory.

The principle ‚product to operator‚ is applied. That means automating operations both on cargo entrance and exit. The result is convenience and easy access to each of the freight units.

Product flow at the speed of 45 meters a minute

The stock on hand is controlled and updated virtually round the clock. In a matter of fact,  which eliminates errors connected with it. Another advantage is using storage space to the maximum.

Stacker crane that places boxes on racks and takes it from them; no corridors for the traditional means of transport are needed. The device works at the speed of 250 m/minute and the vertical one of 90 m/minute, which not only ensures flow exceeding the company’s current needs but also prepares it to the anticipated production increase.

Automated warehouse boxes or trays storage system that integrate shelving, machinery and warehouse management software all in one. It is made up of a central aisle, along which a stacker crane travels, and two racks built at either side used to store boxes or trays. The picking and handling area is formed by conveyors and is positioned at one end or at the side of the racking. Here, the stacker crane deposits the load extracted from the rack. The conveyors then take the box to the operator and once he/she has finished the job, it is returned to the stacker crane which then places it back in the racking. The whole system is controlled by a management software package which registers the location of all the materials in the warehouse and keeps a real-time inventory.

WMS manages completion

Order preparation starts when boxes are transported from a miniload warehouse to two U-shaped picking positions (having the shape of ‚U’). In order to process an order, operators collect the products, which are indicated on a display by the warehouse software (WMS). Ready orders are stacked on trucks. When there is less movement on the picking positions, stock is replenished. This way, neither of the two activities disturbs in performing the other one.

An automated system is worth as much as the software for operating it. The task of the Easy WMS program is to coordinate processes and activities so as to ensure the maximum warehouse efficiency and process orders efficiently.

It is the system that determines the best possible places for storing, placing goods on racks, taking turnover into consideration, collecting boxes from racks, and relocating them to picking positions, and also order processing.

Photo: Mecalux

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