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Rack optimization is designed to make human work easier and boost efficiency. Machines are usually right, so the additional goal is to minimize errors. Automated lift solutions bring even more benefits. Lifts systems also help to save precious space in a warehouse.

MAN Diesel & Turbo SE produces gas and steam turbines, axial screw compressors and expanders. Recently, the company’s factory in Oberhausen, Germany, introduced a unique order picking system using Hänel Lean-Lift.

Vertical lift systems saving space

The window of Lean-Lift contains a set of photoelectric sensors. Their task is to measure the heights of products on the shelves and arrange the shelves as densely as it is possible: one right above the other. This enables limiting space for storage of goods even by 80 percent.

Two lift systems of this type are located in the central part of the hall. Vertical devices are ca. 9 meter high. They are equipped with 160 multi-function containers providing over 6 thousand storage spaces. Shelf height optimization system enables reaching the capacity for over 9 thousand commodity indexes required for production and shipment.


Warehouse management and control are based on SAP ERP system. The system is directly (SOAP) connected with an intralogistics solution, so it is not necessary to use any additional software.

Scanning at hand

Lift operators use an innovative solution in the form of smart glasses. With a special application, they enable communication with SAP, which sends instructions steering the system. A glove with an integrated scanner wore by the workers is yet another innovative and functional gadget. With this solution, the employee has both hands free while picking up orders.

Rękawica ze skanerem i okulary firmy Hänel Lean-Lift
Rękawica ze skanerem i okulary firmy Hänel Lean-Lift
Photo: Hänel Lean-Lift


When SAP sends instructions to receive or issue goods, the automated machine delivers a necessary container to the access point. Printing takes place at the same time. The employee uses the scanner to save data, confirms a search transaction in SAP, and the stock is updated automatically.

Such system is designed to ensure maximum efficiency, which results e.g. from shortened response time. When one element on the first rack is being picked up and packed, the second rack is already delivering another container with the next element to the access point.


The solution is very ergonomic, for example, all elements are weighed before placing them in the warehouse. The system of “traffic lights” indicates where elements of different weights should be placed. It helps people working in the warehouse.

Lights show the right product

VBH Nederland is a completely different manufacturer. The company offers components for assembly of doors and windows, including locks and hinges. Successful picking up of thousands of components is possible thanks to fast operation and minimization of error risk.

All small items are stored in a few 5 meter high lifts which use the entire vertical space of the warehouse (up to the ceiling). Small components are stored directly next to the pallet warehouse.

Fast order picking is enabled with the pick-by-light system. After confirmation, the order goes to the picking point. A LED display shows the number of elements which should be picked up, and the ray of light points to the right product. Then, the elements go to picking containers placed on the conveyor located opposite the picking point. All the containers can be identified with a LED indicator.

With Lean-Lift system, it is possible to process large order lists in a short time. In a week it is about 1300 orders, each time including up to 20 thousand items. It is important to eliminate errors during the order picking process. The goods go directly to the operator’s hands, the efficiency of the process increases, and the system may be integrated with the currently used ERP.


Another task is to control stocks. Both stocks and location of storage are managed with HänelSoft system (it receives order lists sorted by customers’ names). All orders are processed and picked up at the same time.

Photo: Hänel Lean-Lift


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