Logistics 4.0 by SAP EWM at Linde Hydraulics

Future-oriented storage building | Linde Hydraulics has invested in a new major works at the site of Aschaffenburg in order to open up innovation opportunities and growth potential faster and more effectively in future. The innovative integrated central warehouse for production supply started its operation early August 2016 (Figure 1). The implementation was under the responsibility of IGZ, the SAP EWM general contractor from Falkenberg/Upper Palatinate. The performance package of the Upper Palatinate encompassed also planning tailored to individual customer requirements and design, the turnkey supply and installation of equipment, as well as the Siemens TIA control engineering tailored to SAP in addition to the SAP EWM warehouse management software and MFS material flow control.

Linde Hydraulics is a global developer and supplier of modular drive systems of hydraulic, electrical and electronics, which find application in mobile work machinery, such as land, construction, mining, forestry and municipal machines and industrial machinery. The product range includes hydraulic pumps, motors, valves, electronic controllers, peripherals and rotary actuators. The company employs approximately 1,300 employees at five production sites in Germany and China, as well as in the subsidiaries in Europe, South America, the United States and China. The presence of Linde Hydraulics is ensured in over 50 countries with a dense network of about 80 sales and service partners. 

Strategic realignment as a logical consequence

In Aschaffenburg in September 2013, the Linde Hydraulics GmbH & co. KG, today independently-run, laid the foundation stone for the new main plant with a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony. It is a central part of a comprehensive optimisation program with the objective to respond to market and customer requirements even better in the future. This growth strategy is supported and actively promoted by the investor of Weichai Power, one of the leading companies of the commercial vehicle and automotive industry in China. 

In the course of the construction, a complex of buildings for administration, research, development and distribution as well as a state of the art production and assembly hall have been built on a total 70,700 square meters. The latter claimed approximately 22,000 square metres floor area. The new plant at the headquarters in Aschaffenburg was officially opened in July 2016. The production capacity amounted to an annual 150,000 hydraulic units (pumps and motors) for customers and another 50,000 assembly kits for final assembly in other works. 

The innovative integrated central warehouse in the new main works comprises a flexible high-bay warehouse that can accommodate over 4,000 carriers (in double - or quadruple deep storage) in three aisles as well as a 1-aisle fully automated small parts warehouse AKL for around 28,000 containers (in triple - or six-fold deep storage) (Figure 2).

Logistic 4.0 innovation with 6-fold deep small parts warehouse

IGZ introduced a logistics innovation in AKL apart from the conclusive and even more beneficial overall logistics concept, compared with the original planning for Linde Hydraulics:  On the AKL warehouse handling equipment, specially designed load lifting means in connection with SAP EWM/MFS secure a six-fold deep, space-saving storage. This innovation eliminates the usual search for a fall-back compartment, which has significant influence on the storage moves. Through this, substantial performance is generated in addition to possible storage space compression at the same time. "A future-oriented, SAP EWM-based, Logistics 4.0 solution emerged between Linde Hydraulics and IGZ". The objective in the foreground was to generate the flexibility and economic viability to maximise customer benefit", says Christian Matte, IGZ Managing Director responsible for the IGZ general contractor business (Figure 3). "This was only possible, thanks to the great experience with SAP EWM and concurrent engineering competence in an automated environment", says Christian Matte. 

A recognized main attribute of Industry 4.0, as well as Logistics 4.0 is the consistent and standardised networking of the various systems with each other as it only exists through a consistent use of SAP for SAP users. Thus, transparency, flexibility and additional performance gain in processing, but also e.g. process changes are achieved. SAP EWM is the only warehouse management and material flow system that enables consistent standard integration (plug & play) with the SAP ERP system while enabling standard integrating in the PLC and actuators level. 

"Through this entire system realised by IGZ a consistent material flow could be realized along the entire value chain.  High efficiency increase, cost benefits and a flexible, future-oriented design describe the effectiveness of this system", notes Christian Kilian, head of logistics drives at Linde Hydraulics, (Figure 3). "We get only a portion of the possible throughput and therefore have many reserves, with which we can quickly and flexibly respond to new requirements and performance peaks."

Investment protection with SAP EWM and Siemens TIA portal

The central warehouse is managed using SAP EWM (extended warehouse management) and is directly connected via the integrated material flow control SAP MFS (figure 4). Subordinated at the machine level, IGZ uses Siemens TIA portal and S7-1500 controls another future building block for Linde Hydraulics. "This system architecture with SAP EWM and Siemens TIA Portal caters for the currently highest possible investment protection on the intra logistics market", explains Matt. Further, rapid interventions are made possible by the intuitive operation via Siemens WinCC system visualization.

SAP EWM general contractor preferred

SAP EWM as standard software was not mandatory initially, nevertheless, those responsible at Linde Hydraulics wanted to exclude "the dangers of a proprietary system". In the tender, meetings were held with several potential suppliers. Hereby, the advantages of an SAP EWM-based solution crystallised - also reduced interfaces recommended a seamless integration of the central warehouse in SAP EWM. 

After IGZ managed to be among the finalists, SAP project house for logistics and production, from the Upper Palatinate, won with a crucial aspect. "IGZ had presented itself as SAP specialist, but at the same time had high competence as general contractor," says Christian Kilian. "This convinced us." 

As a result, IGZ was awarded the project for the SAP EWM general contractor by Linde Hydraulics. Christian Mattes added: "Well received were also our IGZ test tools that find application in each of our projects. Through early application, we achieve high availability and performance already from the start of production at our customer premises." This in turn secures the success of the project and thereby sustainable efforts and costs of both parties.

Tailor-made suit instead of standard off the shelf.

At the same time, the "chemistry" between the managers of Linde Hydraulics and IGZ was promising. "We have maintained a very constructive cooperation from the outset and together quickly pushed the whole thing," emphasises Christian Kilian. On each request adjustment, adequate solutions were found within a short time, including novelties, which have been designed and realised in response to the individual requirements of the Aschaffenburg drives specialists. 

For example, small load carriers with the dimensions 300 x 200 mm in a channel, 6-fold deep, larger containers (300 x 400 mm) can be stored in AKL with integrated supermarkets by means of which also the tugged trains are equipped as required. At the same time, laterally-installed output stations for availability as supermarket with fixed assignments and dynamically assignable lanes for the timely production supply by means of tugged trains (Fig. 5). The supply for this supermarket lanes is fully automatic with the stacker crane and can be configured accordingly to the current requirements at any time in the SAP EWM. This increases speed and flexibility. 

"Another special feature lies in the mechanical version of the high-bay warehouse with its front zone. We not only transport cages, full - and half pallets with so-called "elephant feet" not only horizontally on conveying means, but store them automatically directly in the same spaces in a chaotic manner", says Christian Mattes. Thus, work steps, like base palletising and empty pallets handling, as well as various manually required activities, account for long-term cost savings with maximum flexibility for Linde Hydraulics.

Platform for global expansion

"Such solutions can be realized only with the support of partners that are focused primarily on the requirements of customers and not on their own default product catalogue", reports IGZ CEO Christian Mattes. As "SAP EWM general contractor, we act vendor-neutral. At the same time, the question must be clarified, what equipment manufacturer best masters the planned solution." Christian Kilian, says: "From gained experience, I can add only that IGZ is extremely focussed on customer and solution. A pallet conveyor system off the shelf is not an art, but through combination of a wide variety of proven techniques, as they find application with us, enormously promotes our "interdisciplinary and specific know-how, moreover, for example, it was also required for the statics. 

Since the successful go-live of the new central warehouse in August 2016, stakeholders are collecting initial experiences in a real practice. "The system is in operation throughout and we now see how the overall system functions in detail and how powerful it is", continues the Chief logistics manager of Linde Hydraulics. "We are more than satisfied with the achievements so far together." In addition to the high-bay warehouse and the automatic small parts warehouse, the focal point, function space for the supermarket settlement, an advanced cargo handling and container management. As SAP EWM general contractor, IGZ also continues as point of contact for all trades and also service provider for support cases. The intra logistics experts from Falkenberg/Opf. not only delivers the SAP EWM support, but are responsibility also for the service processing for mechanics and control in all service-life stages of the plant. The basis for this is an individual agreement by which the IGZ supports the Linde team along the way. 

The move to the new main works of Linde Hydraulics was completed towards the end of 2016 at the Aschaffenburg location. A total of around Euro 80 million have been spent in building – recently, one of the largest factory investments on the greenfield site in Bavaria. With the project, Linde Hydraulics has now created a reliable basis to expand their own market position internationally.

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