General contractor IGZ realises project for ebm-papst

Distribution centre for a global player

ebm-papst establishes a new distribution centre which will in future function as the central hub for global distribution of the ventilator manufacturer’s products. In the intralogistics centre, the company relies on SAP EWM and the competences of IGZ as Logimat issuer and SAP EWM general contractor.

As a leading innovator for ventilators and motors, ebm-papst has a suitable solution ready for practically every task in ventilation and driver technology. The product range, with more than 15,000 items, is used in numerous industries, such as ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration technology, household appliances, heating technology, IT and telecommunications as well as passenger vehicle and utility vehicle technology. The group of companies currently employs about 12,000 employees worldwide at 18 production sites and 57 sales locations and achieved sales of about 1.6 billion euros in the business year 2014/2015.

As a reaction to the sustained dynamic growth, ebm-papst invested constantly in process optimisations and capacity expansions in production and logistics. Against this background, in 2015, among other things, the construction of a distribution centre (DC) on a 31,000 m2 area on the company site in Hollenbach was given the green light. “This step was absolutely necessary”, explains Stephan Schölzel, Head of the Logistics Division at ebm-papst. “We had to constantly rent out external warehouses in the area, a fact which, with respect to the expenses connect with it, did not represent a permanent solution.”

New logistics centre for the global market

From the end of 2016, almost all order-related finished products in the seven German production sites will be supplied to the Hollenbach DC and there consolidated and made read for distribution. These internal suppliers are the nearby factories in Mulfingen and Niederstetten as well as the Hollenbach factory which is directly connected. The Landshut, St. Georgen, Herbolzheim and Lauf sites will also be connected on the distribution side.

For detailed logistics planning as well as realisation of the rough logistics concept developed by itself, Stephan Schölzel’s team received support from SAP EWM general contractors IGZ from Falkenberg (EWM = Extended Warehouse Management, the warehouse administration and management system from SAP). The decision was preceded by a jointly implemented additional SAP EWM deployment analysis and rough SAP EWM concept. The successful projects which the technology company has already implemented with IGZ in the production environment in the course of implements SAP MES (Manufacturing Execution System) were also assessed very positively.

Moreover, the migration from SAP WM (Warehouse Management) to SAP EWM/MFS (Extended Warehouse Management) was to be realised as independent components or part of SAP SCM. “We need a partner who has the necessary competence and experience to solve all of this accurately”, says Logistics Manager Schölzel. The intelligent warehouse management ultimately decides on the achievement of the objectives.

Process efficiency implemented systematically

“The great challenge is to implement a cross docking process, in the course of which the delivered packaging items are guided directly through the installed pallet conveyor system to the automatic packing lines and then sorted according to destination for shipping”, says Christian Mattes, Managing Director IGZ Automation. An intermediate storage for goods ready for dispatch should be reduced to a minimum.

Within the framework of intensive workshops, in the words of Schölzel, “the intelligence of the system was born”. This is based on the aim of the project, which was to develop a suitable cross docking process for a proportion of the made-to-order products to be determined in cooperation with Sales and Production and to implement the logistics processes in SAP EWM defined together as well as to coordinate the systems technology in the best possible way.

Besides service and quality specifications, safety aspects also had to be considered because ebm-papst holds the status of an “authorised economic operator” as well as the status of “regulated agent” in the air freight sector. Errors in picking and consolidation should also be excluded alongside damages and misloading. “In doing so, it is of immense important to coordinate closely with ebm-papst on structuring processes running in parallel within the meaning of ‘lean production’”, says Mattes. This therefore involves, among other things, the demand for shortened cycle times, reduction of the production batch and transparency of information.

In order to be able to soften spikes in the process sequence, the cross docking concept plans additional preparation and block storage areas. An automatic high bay warehouse, a manually operated bay warehouse for pallets with special sizes as well as an automatic small-parts warehouse (in another expansion stage) will serve to stockpile warehouse items, spare parts, consignment and kanban stocks as well as supply for order picking. With a height of 35m, a width of 30 m and a length of 100 m, the high bay warehouse to be built offers capacity to store almost 19,000 pallets. The spaces are spread out across six alleys, in each of which an automatic stacker crane operates. A separate “safe” air freight area will be part of the distribution centre in the final construction phase.

Functional components in SAP EWM adapted to needs

Besides implementation of SAP EWM with the entire process management (including storage management and material flow), IGZ is also responsible for the entire SPS automation technology and the general contractor’s role for the steel structure and mechanics trade in the new central distribution centre at the Hollenbach site. A core element of the IGZ services is, among other things, the direct control of material flow technology with the highly automated packing lines as well as automated stacker cranes using SAP MFS (MFS = Material Flow System from SAP). Here the large number of different carriers up to 1700 mm in width owing to the size and variety of the product is to be taken into consideration.

For the purpose of further optimising the cross docking process, IGZ adapted various functional components in SAP EWM to the needs of ebm-papst, which go beyond the physical walls of the plant. Specific opportunities for control are opened up, for example, by yard management as well as dock appointment scheduling, using which the arrival of delivery vehicles and the process of loading and unloading can be planned and efficiently managed in SAP EWM. Special niche solutions from outside of SAP can therefore be set aside, leading to a high level of consistency and process transparency. An index system in accordance with KPI (Key Performance Indicators) also comes into effect. This instrument, which is also integrated into SAP EWM, supports the company in future to measure and analyse the entire logistics process.

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