Dematic installs scalable storage and order fulfilment solution for major industrial supplies wholesaler

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Ferdinand Gross, a major supplier of fastening components, tools, workshop supplies and factory equipment, has optimised its logistics operations productivity and flexibility and significantly improved customer service levels with a new Multishuttle system from Dematic.

Dematic, supplier of logistics automation solutions, systems and service, has installed a storage and order fulfilment solution featuring the new Dematic Multishuttle for Ferdinand Gross, a major European supplier of fasteners and connectivity technologies.

Dematics Multishuttle is a flexible Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) solution for applications that require dynamic, high rate, product sequencing to support order assembly, goods to the person picking, and pick face replenishment. The key attributes of Dematics Multishuttle include high rate capacity, ability to accommodate load sequencing requirements, and adaptability to existing building layouts.

For Ferdinand Gross, the primary objective of the design was to enhance the level of customer service through a cost-effective distribution concept and expansion of storage capacities. The Multishuttle at Ferdinand Gross has highly dynamic picking, with unsurpassed flexibility due to the unique installation of the Multishuttle, featuring the worlds first installation of the two Multishuttle versions, Captive and Roaming, in a single unit with identical shuttles in both areas.

The Multishuttle Roaming system is dedicated primarily to the fastest moving items, improving availability and flexibility. The Roaming system delivers significant optimisation and cost-savings compared to conventional solutions using automatic small-parts pickers. In the Roaming area, 20 shuttles serve the 59,000 storage positions at a throughput rate of 615 double cycles (parallel storage and retrievals) per hour. Every aisle contains one shuttle which accesses each level by lift and then runs on the rail to the selected storage position. The individual shuttles are transferred between levels via lifts at impressive speeds.

The Multishuttle Captive area manages order picking of items from the roaming section, shelf storage system and picking-related areas. Here, each level in the aisle is equipped with its own shuttle, with 12 shuttles serving 5,000 storage positions at a rate of 514 double cycles per hour. The shuttles retrieve totes from storage and transport them to a lift at the end of the lane. The lift vertically transfers the boxes to the out-feed conveyors which lead to an ergonomically-optimised picking station. Here, sequencing to customer specification is possible, i.e. delivery of good from inventory in the precise sequence that they are needed for picking for the order.

The new solution from Dematic has brought substantially higher efficiency than the system previously employed at Ferdinand Gross. Order throughput times have been reduced from as long as 3.5 hours to as little as 30 to 60 minutes, and as a result, the company was able to extend the incoming order cut-off time to 3 hours later. For customers, these changes mean considerably greater flexibility and improved services. At a delivery deadline established by the customer, all pending orders in the system are bundled into a single shipment. The resultant later order dispatch window allows better bundling of individual orders, thereby reducing the number of packages to be consigned.

Above all, it is the customers on Kanban contracts who benefit most from the new system. Order fulfilment times have been shortened tremendously, from an average of one week to just a single day. Previously, customers shipping containers had a fixed label, showing article number, article description, amount and customer name. Once the customer emptied the container, Ferdinand Gross would pick it up and return it to the DC, ready to be refilled and shipped out again. With the new system, customer containers can now be relabelled for filling with any product rather than waiting for the original empty container to return to trigger the order. Consequently, return trips with empty boxes can now be bundled, reducing the number of trips to and from the customer. This cuts transport costs and has a positive impact on the environment.

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