Logistics investment at medical technology manufacturer Pajunk with Aberle know-how

With an intelligent material flow concept, integrated IT infrastructure and plant technology for largely automated contract manufacturing, Aberle has realized a highly efficient distribution center as general contractor for intralogistics at the new logistics location of the Pajunk group of companies.

Pajunk Medical Technology GmbH is all about the details. The company, which is based in Geisingen near Tuttlingen, traditionally comes from a precision engineering sector and has increasingly specialized in medical technology since its foundation in 1965. More precisely: with its business areas of regional anesthesia, neurology, laparoscopy, organ biopsy, and dental medicine, Pajunk is one of the leading manufacturers of complete medical systems for a wide variety of application methods. In the mid-70s the company’s first product line was developed. Series production is carried out automatically using a combination of traditional manufacturing methods and the latest computer technology with automatic placement machines developed in-house. Individual custom-made products are manufactured with a great deal of tact and precision by hand. However, the continuous increase in demand for precision instruments and the increasing growth of the company required a restructuring and expansion of capacities in production and logistics. The company management decided to set up another production building with a connected logistics facility. Aberle GmbH, Leingarten, the system integrator in the Logistics Systems division of the international technology group Körber, was awarded the contract for the intralogistics system with direct connection to production.

A significant increase in key contract manufacturing figures

Since the middle of last year, the medical technology manufacturer has been producing, storing and distributing its products at its new location in the industrial park near the company headquarters. The first effects of the investment project were already reflected in the group's annual balance sheet. For the 2017 financial year, it reported an eleven percent increase in sales and a 5.5 percent increase in the number of employees. "We have shown what we can do in all areas," is how managing director Martin Hauger sums up the successful restructuring. "High tech from new products to fully automated logistics projects".

This draws attention to the extensive automation of processes in the new logistics center. Aberle has implemented a compact system technology with stringent material flows for highly efficient processes with optimal space utilization. In addition, process control is carried out using a uniform IT infrastructure based on Aberle's Process Management System (PMS). "For us, the integrated IT infrastructure is an essential basis both for process efficiency and availability and for further digitization in our supply chain," says Martin Hauger, explaining the background information to the decision. "That's why we didn't want isolated solutions for intralogistics, but a comprehensive software system.

The warehouse management system (WMS) PMS-W, which is directly connected to Pajunk's host system, takes over the tasks associated with warehouse and inventory management. Its range of functions - from goods receipt and picking to goods issue and dispatch - is designed to support both automated and manual processes in the manufacturer's new logistics center. It takes over the central control of all warehouse processes as well as the administration of the articles including batch registration as well as the orders and order production. Process control takes place in conjunction with the PMS-M material flow system. In addition, the PMS-V visualization system is installed for transparent tracking and evaluation of plant and operating states. For example, it displays plants and their utilization in graphical form and enables proactive interventions to ensure plant availability. For storage and order production, Aberle has implemented a compact material flow concept with an automated small parts warehouse, container conveyor technology, a picking station, and a manually operated pallet rack warehouse.

Special feature: The entire container conveyor technology for the transfer from production runs under the ceiling of the logistics center. The medical instruments manufactured under clean room conditions are placed on trays or in containers on a conveyor stitch at a transfer point in the production building. It feeds the article bundles through a clean room sluice and feeds them into the material flows of the logistics center. At a height of five meters, the container conveyor system guides the incoming goods from the company's production facilities to the logistics center. There, the load carriers are transferred from the conveyor system either directly to the automated small parts warehouse installed by Aberle or - for order picking or for necessary repacking processes - to the picking station set up. Parallel to that, a goods receiving table is set up for the receipt of delivered materials and consumables. There the deliveries, which are stored in the automated small parts warehouse, are separated on load carriers and transported via conveyor technology and a vertical lift to the transfer point for the storage and retrieval machine.

Aberle has set up a single-aisle, stacker-operated high-bay warehouse with 360 pallet spaces for the storage of goods delivered on pallets or the replenishment of the automated small parts warehouse. The automated order production processes run via the automated small parts warehouse and the picking station. In the single-aisle automated small parts warehouse, there are around 3,100 storage spaces available for double-deep storage of the load carriers. The installed storage and retrieval machine offers a handling capacity of 1,200 storage and retrieval operations per day. With its combination telescopic load handling attachment, it handles both the containers and the shelves. For make-to-order production, the PMS-W triggers coordinated stock removals via the PSM-M.

A vertical lift guides the load carriers from the storage and retrieval level to the automated small parts warehouse to level zero. There, a compact conveyor system serves the picking and repacking station. It is set up according to optimal ergonomic aspects. With screen support and a Pick-by-Light system, the Pajunk employees can compile up to eight orders simultaneously. Accordingly, the PMS-W coordinates the retrieval strategies and the sequencing of the source load carriers to the picking station. Another special feature: the lift system operates an efficient two-story conveyor system for the supply and disposal of the picking station. The swelling containers and cartons are provided on the lower conveyor section, the upper one leads the load handling attachments back to the lift and via this to the automated small parts warehouse. After completion of the picking process, the employees at the picking station place the shipping units onto a separate accumulation and acceptance area for outgoing goods. There, the shipping cartons are palletized and fed into the transport networks of the integrated service providers.

"Low personnel costs and extremely efficient, largely automated storage and order production processes," sums up Pajunk Managing Director Martin Hauger. "The automation of the processes and the availability of the data digitally recorded in the warehouse with the integrated IT infrastructure have significantly increased the key figures of our order production and our service level. We are highly satisfied with the results".