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The Makro logistics centre in the Czech Republic is huge. Just next to Prague, a building was erected last year, which is an interesting example of a fusion between traditional and modern solutions.

In this case, it is an extensive conventional racking system for different temperature zones, a ten-aisle automatic loading system (ASPW). This is complemented by sixteen modules of the Schäfer Carousel System (SCS), a container conveyor system and three picking stations with sequencing towers. The whole operation is supervised by the warehouse management system WMS Wamas.

Carousel system improves efficiency

The most innovative is the Carousel System. It is a solution that allows achieving an efficiency of up to 1000 picks per hour. At the same time, the storage density can be increased by approximately 50%. This is an intelligent solution that provides dynamic support for order picking processes. The SCS is particularly suitable for handling small parts and medium and slow-moving products. These may include medicines, cosmetics, electronics, multimedia, foodstuffs and other standard and small items.

As a standard, the SCS consists of four rotating carousels, each of them cooperating with a separate, automatic module for loading and unloading. Dense carrier stacking in racks allows up to 6,000 containers of storage capacity (using a standard four-carousel system). The basis of each module is a standard container. The containers can be divided into up to 8 parts and can carry loads of up to 25 kg.

The containers can be accessed by means of fully automatic elevators with handling equipment. Elevators collect containers from their locations in the carousel modules. They are then transferred to the integrated conveyors of the transport system in the so-called front zone. They deliver them to order picking stations.  

Makro, the wholesale operator calls its system semi-automatic, and the distribution centre used to supply Makro stores in the Czech Republic is to be fully efficient in terms of picking, capacity and throughput by 2025.

Miniload stacker cranes store and retrieve goods

“Carousels” cooperate with static high bay warehouses with a total capacity of 31,000 pallet storage spaces and continuous pallet racks with 500 storage spaces. The additional flow-shelf rack has a total of 93,000 spaces for containers and cardboard packaging in 3-meter deep channels.

The heart of automated processes is an 11.5 m high ASPW, a 10-storey warehouse with an area of almost 5,000 sqm for approx. 50,000 products. Storage and retrieval processes are performed by ten Miniload cranes.

There are also 16 stations where orders are consolidated and palletized (there is room for 44 containers in each of the three towers). Everything is done in accordance with the goods-to-person principle – the method of commissioning, in which the goods are delivered to the workplace, where they are picked up by the commissioner.  

Eventually, the automated transport of containers in Makro’s distribution centre will take place in a conveyor system (about 2 km of belt and roller conveyors), equipped with integrated, movable scales.

WMS is used to manage both manual and automatic processes. Programming is possible for all temperature ranges. Analysis of KPIs and their visualization in control panels enable Makro decision-makers to monitor the system in real time and introduce changes and improvements at any time.

Image: SSI Schaefer

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