A Solid Guarantee for the On-Time Supply of Spare Parts

12 June 2024

Inther Group's intralogistics optimization project in the automotive sector has elevated storage processes and production shipping dynamics for a Bavarian automobile manufacturer. Through modern conveyor systems, automated small parts warehousing with agile shuttles, and ergonomically tailored order-picking stations, Inther Group has unlocked new throughput potential, ensuring timely delivery of spare parts with enhanced quality and dependability.

To meet the growing order volume and the increasing need for fast, on-time order production and delivery of spare parts, the established processes, and the existing warehouse equipment at the BMW Group site in Dingolfing, Germany have been optimized and expanded. Efficiency and ergonomics in storage, order picking, packaging and shipping were further increased. The system integrator Inther Group Germany based in Neckarwestheim was awarded the contract to implement a complete concept including an automated small parts Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS), intelligent material flows and the latest conveyor technology. The Dutch headquarters in Venray supported the comprehensive analysis, design and system planning as well as the project implementation in Dingolfing. In addition, the Heidelberg-based consulting and planning company, io, accompanied the project from the tendering and awarding process to the implementation and final acceptance.

As the heart of the logistics facility, Inther set up a new, highly automated four-aisle small parts shuttle system. With four layers of depth and 20 levels of height, the shuttle installation offers an enormous capacity of about 80 000 container spaces for storing spare parts. The dimensions of said containers used are 650 x 450 x 270 mm with a maximum weight of 30 kg each.


"The shuttles have been specially developed for the requirements of current and future small parts warehouses," explains Stefan Weisshap, CEO of Inther Group Germany. "With its four-layer-deep storage, the shuttle system offers enormous capacity with compact, high-density storage, and the automation of retrieval speeds up the delivery of goods to the picking workstations." This means that more items can be stored in less space and the throughput speed of order processing can be increased.

Workstations for order-picking and packaging were set up for the picking and shipping packaging processes. In addition, three workstations were installed in the area for reception of goods. For the networking of the AS/RS and the ergonomically designed, height-adjustable storage, picking, and packing workstations, Inther Group has implemented an intelligent, dynamic conveyor technology concept including empty container buffers. The conveyor technology serves the workstations in cycles on special conveyor lines for source containers, destination containers, and shipping cartons at a speed of 0.8 m/sec.

The picking stations are serviced from the AS/RS with source containers and equipped with attached empty container buffers. Spare parts are picked for shipping using a pick-by-light system into cartons or reusable containers. Carton erectors provide the prefabricated cartons. Accordingly, the conveyor technology is designed to transport both types of load carriers. After picking is completed, the conveyor technology returns the partially picked containers to the transfer points in the AS/RS. Destination containers and cartons are transported to the four packing stations via the conveyor line. The ready-to-ship load carriers are guided to the shipping area by the conveyor technology. Automated weight checks in the conveyor line verify the correct picking by comparing it with order and master data. Faulty cartons are diverted to a NiO loop. Subsequently, the cartons pass through a carton sealing machine, and containers are capped before automatic labeling takes place on the conveyor line.


"The entire conveyor technology has been designed according to a bypass concept," explains Weisshap. "This allows the AS/RS and all stations to mutually serve each other as needed, for example, to carry out returns more quickly, to avoid or bypass congestion or short-term component malfunctions on the system."

Inther also seamlessly connected the new automated storage and conveyor technology with the existing system technology. The visualization of the conveyor technology is done through the Zenon software, which Inther configured to meet the specific requirements at BMW. Incoming goods processing, picking, packaging, and workstation dialogs are controlled by SAP. This also applies to the shuttle system and document printing for the shipping boxes and containers.

With the agreed after-sales services for support and maintenance of the system, Inther Group guarantees long-term, reliable system availability. "A high-performance automation solution that ensures rapid supply of spare parts with enormous storage capacity, efficient processes and reliable picking quality," summarizes Inther Group Germany CEO Weisshap.

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