Logistics retrofit at ENGEL AUSTRIA successfully completed

SAP EWM/MFS and new technology from a single source

Increasing process requirements have prompted ENGEL AUSTRIA to subject the logistics center in Schwertberg to a comprehensive retrofit of all plant areas as well as the logistics IT after a useful life of around 20 years. The complex package of measures was implemented in several construction stages during ongoing operations in order to ensure uninterrupted delivery capability despite the extensive interventions. The partner decision was made in favor of IGZ as SAP EWM general contractor. In addition to all modernization measures of the plant technology, IGZ also implemented the SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM/MFS) as new warehouse management software with direct connection to the control technology. The result is a now consistently optimized production supply system with performance reserves that can be flexibly adapted to new requirements. For ENGEL AUSTRIA, a massive gain in terms of performance, availability and future security.

Uncompromising quality, high innovative strength and worldwide customer proximity - these are the pillars on which ENGEL AUSTRIA GmbH has steadily continued its successful course since its foundation in 1945. The family-owned company from Schwertberg in Upper Austria is considered a leading brand in injection moulding machine manufacturing. Around 6,400 employees work on this in nine production plants in Europe, North America and Asia, as well as 30 sales and service subsidiaries worldwide, generating a total turnover of 1.1 billion euros in the 2020/2021 financial year.

While large machines are manufactured in St. Valentin in Austria, the headquarters in Schwertberg specializes in small and medium-sized machine production . The assembly stations are supplied with the required components via the affiliated central warehouse, which was commissioned about 20 years ago . At the same time, it is used for stocking and shipping spare parts. "The proverbial ravages of time made themselves felt recently," reports Warehouse Manager Hannes Leitner. "Plant availability was declining and the effort required for spare parts procurement was no longer up to date. At the same time, we were required to adapt the processes to the increasing production figures and prepare the technology for new requirements, such as the integration of tugger trains."

Well thought-out staged concept

The assembly supply center comprises an automated small parts warehouse (AS/RS) with 10,200 bin locations and a high-bay warehouse (HRL) with space for around 3,800 pallets single-deep. Beyond the decreasing availability of the system components, the processes in the warehouse as well as its organization had to be optimized. Containers removed from storage for order picking, for example, took a detour via the pallet conveyor system, resulting in multiple handling and excessively long throughput times. This effort was to be reduced, among other things, by new compaction processes to be implemented. Furthermore, an improved volume utilization rate was to be realized at container level.

The expectations of the future planning and retrofit partner were correspondingly high. "IGZ clearly presented the most suitable overall concept for us," affirms Joachim Metzmacher, CPO of the ENGEL Group. "We were directly convinced by the approach of carrying out a retrofit analysis in advance of the planning and carrying out the modernization and migration in several stages." Another decisive factor was that the SAP engineers from the Upper Palatinate were able to plan and implement both the plant technology and control system and the introduction of SAP EWM including material flow control with SAP MFS (SAP Material Flow System) from a single source. Interfaces could thus be avoided. After all, ensuring continued warehouse operations even during the modernization was the top priority. "With our portfolio at IGZ, we have the optimal setup for modernizations, expansions and new buildings with SAP EWM/MFS. Thus, in-depth planning and realization of migrations under our overall responsibility are part of our daily business. We were able to successfully bring these to ENGEL," says Alfred Meyer, Managing Director of IGZ.

Ambitious project goals

The results of the as-is analysis and retrofit analysis carried out by IGZ were directly incorporated into the concept development. For example, the drives and rails as well as the sensors and control technology of the storage and retrieval machines (SRM) in the pallet warehouse showed signs of age. The miniload stacker cranes, on the other hand, had to be replaced with new equipment. In addition, the conveyor technology including the transverse transfer car and the S5-based controls including the entire sensor system had to be replaced.

In addition, there were further restrictions: The principle of feeding and consolidating requested parts from the miniload and high-bay warehouse via conveyor technology proved to be ineffective. Instead of starting statically at a fixed point, the pick orders should be able to be started at any point and dynamically consolidated via route trains. There was also room for improvement in terms of ergonomics, and the proprietary warehouse management system offered no further development options. "The quintessence was, among other things, to implement the goods-to-person principle in order picking and to create one redundant warehouse pre-zone each for the small parts warehouse and the high-bay warehouse," explains IGZ project manager Robert Bauer. "The forced chaining that created dependencies also had to be eliminated, and different pick starts taking into account area loads, assembly cycles, incoming goods buffering and deduction were to be possible in the future." In addition, it should be possible to prioritize spare parts orders, allow ad-hoc withdrawals, and initiate transfer deliveries. Last but not least, a new container concept with insert boxes was planned to increase the filling level of the miniload.

Replacement and tuning according to plan

The modernization work started in October 2018. In the first step, the pallet SRMs were successively overhauled mechanically and in terms of control technology. In parallel, IGZ installed a platform on the goods receipt side of the warehouse to facilitate aisle access. In a second construction phase the complete and successive replacement of the AKL-RBG took place. In phase 3, new conveyor sections for pallets and totes were installed in the warehouse pre-zone on the goods receipt side. At the same time, IGZ introduced SAP EWM, including SAP MFS, for the IT processes of all functional areas that had been converted up to that point and successfully went live.

Performance-enhancing features with BEST PRACTICES.

Another innovation that immediately creates significant efficiency and time gains is PICK-BY-MOTION, an IGZ best practice for SAP EWM. This is a high-performance and at the same time flexible picking method with gesture control. Compared to conventional methods, the solution requires less technology input and investment . Workers are guided via SAP EWM dialogs, but the picking process and automatic posting in SAP are performed with just one movement. This saves time. Maximum picking reliability is also ensured via the visually supported engagement and target container control. Pickers always have their hands free during their work and can quickly achieve high performance thanks to intuitive operation. Time-consuming training is not required. If required, dynamic loading of source and destination totes can also be triggered via SAP EWM.

Additional performance improvement was achieved with the SMART-LOGISTICS-COCKPIT, another IGZ best practice for SAP EWM. It is a proactive, cross-system logistics control center for more efficient management of the daily workload. This control station also integrates visualization, which was implemented with the user-friendly design of SAP Fiori technology. "This IGZ best practice also provides valuable support in operational business," emphasizes Georg Prinz, the responsible IT organizer at ENGEL AUSTRIA. "We have an overview of the plant and order status as well as relevant key figures at all times. All information is available online or in real time and can be used for fine adjustments. And all this on a single platform." If critical operating conditions are imminent, the system generates proactive alert messages.

State-of-the-art processes, IT and mechanics

ENGEL AUSTRIA also no longer needs to carry out any additional compaction processes, as this is done directly in the incoming goods department. "Thanks to the new containers with insert boxes, the contents of which are seamlessly recorded via IGZ scanning station, we were able to increase the warehouse fill level in the small parts warehouse and at the same time benefit from a high level of transparency with the SAP EWM solution," says Warehouse Manager Hannes Leitner.

PICK-BY-MOTION has also increased performance and security in the area of container picking. At the same time, 100% redundancy of the picking areas was achieved by setting up full-fledged warehouse pre-zones on both sides. The modernized system now offers sufficient performance reserves to be able to react flexibly to peaks.

CPO Joachim Metzmacher also draws a positive balance: "Our targets were fully met in-time and in-budget. Thanks to the retrofit project implemented by IGZ with SAP EWM/MFS standard software, we have our operating costs under control and are future-proof. In order to roll out the successful partnership to other locations, further projects with IGZ as SAP EWM general contractor are already being implemented."

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