Spare parts logistics at peak performance with SAP EWM/MFS Highlights of OPTIMA's new central warehouse

Every Wednesday at 2 p.m., IGZ invites you to a virtual project presentation as part of its successful Innovation@Work webinar series. Due to the particularly high demand, the central warehouse project of the OPTIMA packaging group in Schwäbisch Hall, implemented by IGZ as SAP EWM general contractor, was presented again. Since the start of operations in March 2019, the technology leader for packaging systems and filling machines has been using the high-performance system to control both the supply of raw parts and semi-finished products for various product divisions as well as global spare parts logistics. One of the reasons OPTIMA chose IGZ as its implementation partner was its comprehensive portfolio of SAP EWM best practices for a wide variety of workstations in the warehouse. Among them, for example, Pick by Motion, the gesture-controlled solution for high-performance picking – more on this in this blog post as well.

The most important at a glance:

  • Bypass connection for prioritized orders
  • EWM-supported quality assurance directly on the shop floor
  • Integrated inspection module "Quality Inspection Engine
  • 5-aisle automatic small parts warehouse (AKL) with > 27,000 storage locations
  • Standard bins in two sizes with insert bins for up to 60,000 items
  • Ergonomic putaway dialog and NIO processing
  • High-performance AKL with SAP EWM/MFS for 3,500 picking units per day
  • Provisioning time of the articles to the workstation under 60 seconds
  • Camera-based source and destination bin monitoring for high picking quality
  • Order buffer for pre-picked items with up to 700 totes
  • Picking parts allocation to staging trolleys
  • Return of empty order target totes to the order buffer

From challenge to customized solution

OPTIMA had already been working on a realignment of its materials management for years. Against this background, the go-live of the new central warehouse in Schwäbisch Hall was an important milestone in the company's history. The scalable overall system was designed in line with the expansion strategy of the global technology leader in the field of packaging and filling and not only replaced a semi-automatically operated system that had been in place since 1983, but also solved other problems: For example, it was not possible to achieve the required picking performance in view of the constant growth on the basis of the old system, which was not only "resource-consuming" but also required pick lists. At the same time, there was an increasing lack of space, so that warehouse properties in the region had to be rented and numerous supply transports were required. Consequently, due to the bottlenecks at the headquarters in Schwäbisch Hall, the incoming goods situation also became increasingly chaotic.

As a result, the "Logistics 2020" project was launched, in which logistics requirements were defined as a target with the support of an external planner. In order to fully exploit optimization potential, the project team carried out a SWOT analysis, which clearly showed the strengths and weaknesses of technologies, and carried out a total of twelve different analyses - for example, at the order and article structure level and in the area of the containers to be used. Picking was also a focus. Possible processes were subjected to a value stream analysis. All results led to a target concept, which was put out to tender and ultimately successfully implemented by the SAP engineers at IGZ as the SAP EWM general contractor with full responsibility.

The OPTIMA central warehouse at a glance

The processes in the new logistics center follow OPTIMA's central requirement of ensuring a constant supply of materials in the required type and quantity right through to the workplace. This involves a very large number of order sizes and around 800 order lines per day. The solution, which covers an area of approx. 6,000 m², comprises manual functional areas at its core, such as block and long goods storage, as well as a 5-aisle automated small parts warehouse (AS/RS) at its heart, which can optionally be extended by an additional aisle in the future during ongoing operation. The highlight: In the automated small parts warehouse, which is normally equipped with around 27,000 double-deep container storage locations, the capacity could be increased to up to 60,000 small storage locations. The storage density gained in this way is achieved by sectioning the containers. This means that standard containers can be subdivided with the aid of insert boxes (1/8, 1/4, 1/2 crosswise/longwise), into which up to eight different articles can be transferred. Instead of 16, there are now only two plastic container sizes in use.

Smart Quality Gate - Automated insert and large container recognition

The basic concept based on insert boxes in turn placed special demands on the software for warehouse management and material flow control. The solution: scanning stations at the workstations in the goods receiving area (GR) with real-time integration into SAP EWM/MFS! The automatic scanning of the insert boxes verifies the container occupancy. Manual handling at the GR stations is eliminated and GR booking is automatic. Thus, the IGZ Best Practice ensures inventory security and minimizes the error rate. Time savings and process reliability are also ensured at the compaction stations in order picking, where the insert boxes can be arranged as required for optimum filling of a container. Each new arrangement is recorded and booked in real time by the system.

Pick by Motion - Gesture-controlled picking in SAP EWM

Another IGZ Best Practice used at OPTIMA is Pick by Motion- a gesture-based dialog control for high-performance picking with SAP EWM. This picking method requires little investment in technology and offers maximum flexibility. Every single source pick and destination delivery is monitored by cameras, so that a 0% error rate is achievable. The gripping process and SAP accounting take place simultaneously with the movement. At the same time, from the employee's point of view, non-contact pick confirmation is an ergonomic, fast and intuitive process. They are guided by graphic operating elements and displays. Thumbs up means OK, thumbs down indicates a required shortage correction. As a self-explanatory system, PICK-BY-MOTION® requires hardly any training and education effort.

Scope of services of IGZ as SAP EWM general contractor

As SAP EWM general contractor IGZ has already successfully implemented a multitude of automatic solutions in the SAP EWM environment. The associated reference projects were also decisive for OPTIMA in commissioning the SAP House for Production and Logistics from Falkenberg to equip and design the central warehouse at the headquarters in Schwäbisch Hall. In this project, IGZ was responsible for the detailed planning and project planning, the complete system integration from steel construction to the storage and retrieval machines including trade coordination, the control technology including visualization as well as the SAP EWM/MFS integration.

Another challenge was the cut-over during the productive start-up, i.e. the handling of the stock transfer including recording and collection in the new logistics center. The fact that this went smoothly within just a few days was thanks to the intelligent and consistent use of an EWM GR packing dialog integrated in SAP. Existing SU labels were scanned in the process. In case of non-existing SU management, a scan of the storage bin label was performed. Consequently, the stock transfer was extremely efficient, as process steps were minimized and resources and time were saved. At the same time, the supply of goods to production was fully guaranteed during the short span of the move.