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Greiner Bio-One is perfectly prepared for further growth

With a new compactly-built logistics system, optimized utilization of space and intelligent material flows Aberle lifted Greiner Bio-One International GmbH's intralogistics to a new level. Storing capacity in the existing room has been doubled and warehousing performance increased five-fold.

With a comprehensive infrastructure project and investments within a double-digit million range Greiner Bio-One (GBO) currently prepares their production and logistics for future sustainability. The core of this restructuring process is the new logistics center, put into operation by the manufacturer specialized in development, production and sales of plastic products for laboratory use end of April this year at the company's location in Frickenhausen near Stuttgart. "The existing high bay warehouse dating from the 1980s could no longer cope with the dynamic development of the company's business in the last few years", Mersid Rizvo, Head of Procurement and Logistics at GBO, explains the circumstances. "From time to time the workload brought the warehouse to its limits and storing goods had to be held available at additional locations. This is the reason why we opted for extension of capacity and an increase in efficiency with a newly built system". Aberle GmbH, Leingarten was awarded the contract for mechanical and automated intralogistics.

Greiner Bio-One GmbH is one of four companies of the international Greiner Gruppe with its headoffice in Kremsmünster, Austria. The globally active, family-owned company with more than 10,000 employes in 33 counties celebrates this year its 150 years' anniversary. Greiner Bio-One's BioScience-Division specializes in the development, production and sales of quality polymer products for laboratory supply. The company thus experienced a consistently positive development in the overall business and orders received in the last decades. To be able to optimally and efficiently cope with this dynamic development in the future in terms of intralogistics, Aberle, system integrator for highly complex automation projects under the umbrella of Körber Logistics, designed and implemented a compact layout with intelligent material flow. Not only was Greiner Bio-One able to more than double capacity of pallet storing on the available company premises, with this system solution by Aberle GBO can even achieve a new quality of performance at Frickenhausen: "The base area for the new high bay warehouse was already preset by the existing building, which was removed for the new construction", Rizvo illustrates. "This was one of the particular challenges of the project.

By an efficient layout and optimized utilization of the new building volume we managed to increase warehousing performance by a factor of 5." On a property base area of 2,285 square meters Aberle erected the new high bay warehouse and connected the adjacent processing areas by pallet conveyor. The center of intralogistics is a four-aisle rack system. The 29-storey newly built complex covers a volume of 70,000 cubic meters. 7,000 small vehicles could be parked inside. For storing pallets, however, the steel construction offers 12,320 storing positions. Pallets are stored double-deep. Incoming goods delivered on pallets are registered by scanning in the controlling SAP-System and are put onto the conveyor by order picking forklift trucks at transfer stations. By doing so the pallets are introduced into the automated processes and deliveries are digitally recorded in stock in the SAP-System.

On the conveyor lanes load units first pass a pallet contour check with inspection of measures, weight and possible damage. For intralogistics and shipping GBO uses two pallet types with different dimensions. Apart from the standardized Euro-Pallet also Greiner-Pallets measuring 1,200 x 1,000 mm are transported. Pallet conveyors as well as lifting devices of the four stacker cranes installed in the high bay warehouse, performing 100 inbound and outbound movements per hour with their double-motors, have been built to cover these requirements.

Unusual feature: All stacker cranes are furnished with an accompanying camera system, connected by interface via the implemented visualization system PMS-V from the Process-Management-System software portfolio by Aberle to the overhead SAP-based Warehouse Management and Material Flow System, integrally documenting the current system status. The camera transmits footage from the moving stacker crane to the control center. Apart from high process transparency, the information captured in livestream or on SD card together with the MX Control Center software tool included by Aberle also offer GBO a retrospect analysis and data evaluation e.g. of errors or failures.

A central pallet conveyor moves the pallets coming from the incoming goods area as well as the order pallets from the picking stations directly to the transfer stations for the stacker cranes in the high bay warehouse. The conveyor system is designed as a continuous conveyor without transfer car. "This allows buffering possibilities and short consecutive transport times to the working stations", Aberle Project Manager Daniel Heim illustrates the advantages. Additionally, the attribute "central" describes another special feature of the system: "The central conveyor lane serves the inbound lines of the high bay warehouse as well as the shipping lanes and transports pallets to and from the picking stations", Heim explains. "To keep the system compact, inbound and outbound transports are mainly conducted on the same conveyor. Nevertheless the respective processes have been separated in the system layout".

Outbound transports coming from the high bay warehouse for supply of the shipping area or picking stations are guided via a steel platform on a second, higher level. Vertical conveyors bridge the difference in height and introduce the shipping pallets into the central conveyor lane, so both material flows can be transported on the same compact conveyor. For order picking three working stations are installed in the warehouse feeding area.

Supply with material source pallets from the high bay warehouse is organized by a transport order from the SAP-based Material Flow Control directly to the PLC-Control and is initiated by the superordinate, also SAP-based Warehouse Management System. These components have been implemented by the logistics software specialist Inconso. Already in the year 2011 the company developed a central SAP-based warehouse management and material flow control solution for the logistics center at Kremsmünster. This template has been transferred and complemented by the experts in logistics software, also part of Körber Logistics, to fit the German plant. As already practiced in Kremsmünster, the processes for integrating the automated warehousing system in Frickenhausen have been simulated in advance by an innovative emulation system.

The big advantage: Already in the planning and testing phase could the new heart of the logistics system be implemented into the existing process structures. For supplying the material source pallets to the picking stations the conveyor has been built even with the ground. Below the determined stopping positions for these pallets three scissor lifting tables are placed, which can be adjusted by the operators via a control in the base plate to a comfortable height for ergonomic picking. The same applies for target pallets. Picking is assisted by a picking dialogue individually customized for Greiner's requirements with special functions such as optimized consolidation of several deliveries to one pick, Pick&Pack-Functionalities and target pallet generation by the SAP-based software. Partly consumed source pallets are returned via the central conveyor lane to the high bay warehouse. Target pallets are directly transported by the conveyor to the shipping zone. Allocation of free storing positions considering the aisle load and determination of the final destination of pallets is controlled by the SAP-based Inconso-components MFS and WMS.

Supply of pallets coming from the high bay warehouse or the picking stations for shipping is provided on two shipping lanes with a buffer zone with a capacity of up to five pallets, each. They end at ground level of the outgoing goods zone, so the pallets can be accessed, taken up, transferred and loaded by the operators with manually operated pallet trucks. The destination of the pallet is displayed on a monitor, which is also controlled by the SAP-based MFS. The loading platforms of the trailers are docked to four outgoing goods gates.

"Our expectations, connected with the new logistics complex and placement of the order with Aberle, have been fully met considering the harmonic project realization and the results achieved", GBO Head of Logistics Rizvo puts it all in a nutshell. "Only thanks to the excellent and constructive cooperation with Aberle and Inconso, we were able to implement such an extensive and complex project on schedule. With the enormous increase of performance of the new logistics system, we are now well prepared for further business growth in terms of intralogistics." 

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