For Jürgen Kalkenbrenner, Head of Automated Whole Systems at SSI Schäfer, these questions don’t even crop up. "The requirements that our customers have for their warehouse logistics are always different, meaning that the solutions are also individual," emphasises the logistics expert. It is not only the type and properties of the goods and parts stored and handled at logistics centres that lead to completely different concepts: "Market position plays a considerable role, as does the question of whether we are creating a system for distribution or production logistics. In production logistics it is important to consider whether a company manufactures large series or specialises in small series or individual manufacture," explains Kalkenbrenner.
Individual solutions made up of standardised components
What is better: a personally customised warehouse logistics solution, or an "off the rack" concept that may have already proven successful within similar companies?
Understanding the customer’s needs
n distribution logistics, delivery times, seasonalities and peaks in workload at different times of day influence the design of the warehouse and picking zone.
There are, of course, also restrictions that must be complied with. The layout of the building and statutory provisions, which can differ from region to region, influence the layout and design of the warehouse.
"When planning it is very important that we understand the business and the customer’s needs. We take a lot of time to do this at the start of every project. It pays off: only when the hardware, software, material flow and work processes are perfectly harmonised can the warehouse costs be at their optimum level."
However, complete individuality must be maintained: as with all industrialised processes, standardisation plays a considerable role in the design of warehouses.
"It is not the solutions that are standardised, but the products – the components that we put together to form an overall solution," explains the SSI Schäfer manager, providing an original example: "Even if you give children the same Lego bricks, you will still have different houses at the end." Translated into the world of logistics this means: components such as stacker cranes, tugger trains, pallet and container conveying technology and controls do, of course, follow the current standards, but they are compiled into a complete solution in an individual way. "Standardisation on a product level is a requirement of economic efficiency," says Kalkenbrenner. "It simplifies maintenance and service and ensures economies of scale in manufacture."
SSI Schäfer will be showing how your warehouse can be individually designed at CeMAT.