Production and logistics synchronised perfectly

Joint disc specialist relies on the competence of IGZ’s SAP engineers as general contractors

The joint disc factory from southern Germany invested a total of about 30 million euros in the extension to its Waldkraiburg factory. In the field of intralogistics, a fully-automated high bay warehouse as well as an innovative tugger train system with automated loading and unloading, among other things, were on the agenda. As general contractor, the SAP EWM general contractor IGZ from Falkenberg was responsible for implementing this uninterrupted total system solution integrated into SAP EWM.

Throughout its almost 70 years of existence, today’s Süddeutsche Gelenkscheibenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG (SGF) has become the market leader in the transmission of torques. The portfolio of the family company, with its headquarters registered in Waldkraiburg in Upper Bavaria, includes joint discs in cardan shafts and steering columns, vibration dampers in drivetrains, exhaust pipe suspensions and dynamic vibration absorbers as well as various rubber/metal parts for the storage of various units. The recipients of these completed products which are always granted the seal of approval “Made in Germany” are primarily the automobile industry as well as machine and plant manufacturers.

Restructuring as a future-proof solution

The starting gun was fired for the realisation of the intralogistics “New construction project SGF 2020” with the symbolic first cut of the spade in March 2015. The company’s largest investment to date was preceded by the strategic decision to merge the existing factories in Kraiburg and Waldkraiburg, to massively extend production capacities and to interlink this even closer with logistics. Moreover, working conditions should be created which appropriately take the age structure of the employees into consideration.

Almost no limits were placed on the design of the extensive factory premises in Waldkraiburg. In a first step, new production areas of around 5,000 square metres have been created directly connected to the existing hall complex, and directly neighbouring that a 24-metre high fully automated high bay warehouse has been built. “The decision for a fully automated high bay warehouse was brought about by a feasibility study of the different storage systems”, explains Gerald Seidinger, Logistics Manager and Deputy Factory Manager of SGF. “The 7.5 metre high warehouse used previously, conventionally serviced by a forklift, was far inferior to a 2-alley automated system solution with about 5,800 pallet spaces with double-deep storage.” The new automatic plant should be supplemented with an attached alley with approx. 600 spaces for non-standard containers of different sizes, which will be stored and removed there with support from forklift trucks. A separate hazardous materials warehouse was also to be constructed.

Gerald Seidinger and his team were also asked to eliminate the high work in processes resulting from the principle of workshop production. In order to prevent “parts tourism” and the allocation of expensive production areas with material which is not immediately required, a SAP EWM-supported route planning with automated tugger train loading and unloading should also be implemented which ultimately makes the forklift truck superfluous in the direct production environment.

High bay warehouse with energy saving factor

Said, done. A 2-alley, fully automated high bay warehouse (HBW) with approximately 5,800 pallet spaces with double deep storage has been built. These shall be supplied and removed by two stacker cranes which are fitted with two load handling attachments and comply with the requirements defined for maximum possible energy efficiency. Of the 24-metre high plant, 21.5 metres of it can still be seen. The reason for this is that the HBW was sunk about 2.8 metres into the ground in order to provide natural cooling for temperature-sensitive raw materials and products. This solution also saves energy, reduces operating costs and, not least, is practical for reason of environmental protection.

The new intralogistics at SGF in Waldkraiburg are set out in such a way that in future up to 100 HGVs can be despatched daily over seven loading bridges. Goods delivered on pallets will be unloaded using forklift trucks and placed in materials handling in the incoming goods area of the HBW, where they will go through an automated weight and shape control. By determining the weight and the item weights stored in SAP, it is ensured that the volume is also recorded correctly. The storage of pallets follows defined SAP EWM storage strategies, so that the best storage place will be selected for each load carried, depending on the items being carried. Finished products are removed according to FIFO (first in – first out).

Fully-automated tugger train loading and unloading

“The key feature of the total system solution controlled throughout by SAP is the tugger train solution integrated in the EWM, which ensures a clocked supply and removal of materials in synchronisation with the production”, says IGZ-GU Project Manager Georg Witt. Gerald Seidinger also sees it this way: “IGZ managed to transfer our employees’ idea of a tugger train plan with fully automated loading and unloading into reality. The company also met the demand for a cycle time for unloading and loading of less than three minutes. This was based on the conviction that a tugger train cannot be efficiently operated until such a minimal time window is observed.”

Goods and containers required are now requested by the employees in Production through already existing PDA terminals. Return transport of finished products as well as raw materials and half-finished products which are no longer required will be registered in parallel. These reports shall be processed in the SAP EWM dialogue so that a corresponding order for removal from storage will be generated from the HBW as a result. The materials run through the connected materials handling and will be supplied through cross conveyor to the transfer points of the tugger train station. There, four telescopic forks sunk into the ground take the goods returned from Production from the tugger train and lay these on the conveyor line. Directly after that, the parts required for the production can also be automatically taken off and loaded onto the tugger train.

“In this way, works in process will be reduced to a minimum, or reduced to what is actually necessary for immediate processing”, stresses Gerald Seidinger. The production is also operated without forklifts. “Only tugger trains and servicing tools for setting up and repairs remains.” A high level of directional stability is ensured using a laser pointer attached to the centre of the train vehicle of the trailer. Two tugger trains with four carts are used per shift, which cover about 56 kilometres a day in total. Projected to one year, this amounts to a distance of 14,100 kilometres.

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