Agriculture machinery spare parts storage with batch picking

Baywa AG - Automated Storage Systems for Agriculture Machinery

Automated storage systems are not just a way of saving money – they are also key to the success of corporate planning. To enable the company to respond flexibly to the changing volume of goods and reduce warehousing costs, BayWa AG installed a Rotomat® vertical storage carousel from Hänel in its central spare parts warehouse in Schweinfurt. The automated “goods to user” order picking ensures that spare and wear parts for a variety of sub-assemblies needed in the agricultural, forestry and municipal sectors are brought swiftly to the retrieval point. The Rotomat® can also be integrated into a system cluster to handle future requirements.

BayWa AG is far more than just a retail company. It is a global corporation with about 17,000 employees and headquarters in Munich, and has generated steady growth for years. Its core competences include trading, logistics and supplementary services in the market segments of agriculture, construction and energy. The agricultural segment in turn has several sub-divisions. The Technology Division covers all the value creation stages of agricultural machinery apart from manufacturing. The product portfolio ranges from farming and forestry technology, including modern milking and feeding systems, to municipal equipment, the building of stables, barn equipment, and various systems for producing renewable energy such as biogas, through to specialist agricultural equipment with all the spare parts involved. The central spare parts warehouse in Schweinfurt is responsible for managing some 85,000 different items for specialist technology needs in agriculture, forestry and municipal applications along with spare parts for agricultural machinery and municipal vehicles, all of which are kept in more than 100,000 storage slots. Around 30 employees supply more than 230 workshops and over 500 mobile service vehicles as well as end customers directly.

Vertical carousel provides fast access to spares for agricultural machinery and municipal vehicles

Service has top priority at BayWa. The Head of Logistics at the central spare parts warehouse, Uwe Riegel, explains: “If we get an urgent order for a replacement part to service agricultural machinery or to repair a harvesting or municipal vehicle, we can guarantee delivery the next day. For fast access to our huge range of about 6,000 different small parts, we use the reliable and compact Rotomat® storage system from Hänel.” The multifunction carriers on the shelves of the Rotomat® carousel offer variable interior fittings to hold the different spare parts. Intermediate shelves and movable dividers can be inserted into punched slot grids so that the carriers can be individually adapted. With two removable intermediate shelves on each of the 22 multifunction carriers, it has been possible to create 66 shelf levels in the carousel. On each level there are 24 storage bins which are subdivided into smaller compartments with cross dividers and each assigned a barcode.

This means there are about 1,500 storage bins in which parts are safely protected from light and dust; these parts include spares for carburetors, small transmission components, seals and spark plugs from Stihl or Bosch and spares for harvesters and tractors from brands such as Massey Ferguson and Fendt which belong to the US corporation AGCO Parts.

With its compact design and by utilizing the full height of the warehouse, the carousel was able to reduce the storage footprint from over 120 square meters to just a few square meters. In this way, costly storage space has been saved and thanks to the fast “goods to user” order picking based on the Ferris wheel principle, picking times have been significantly reduced. Moreover, the entire inventory of small parts is safely stored in the closed carousel.

Optimized and reliable batch picking

The Hänel storage carousel is impressive because it takes up so little space and also because of the great flexibility and transparency of all the processes. Currently order picking is carried out in batch mode. The orders are printed out on the label printer. Using the barcode scanner connected via USB interface, the order data on a label are scanned into the BayWa network and electronically recorded in the SAP storage management system in Munich. At the touch of a button, the items in a pick list are brought to the retrieval point in the most efficient sequence in one direction of rotation.

Uwe Riegel explains: “With the Ethernet interface, the carousel storage system can also be controlled directly from the SAP system. The technical implementation of this seamless integration into our IT system is to take place soon. Then manual control via keypad will no longer be necessary. At the present time we handle on average up to 600 pick orders in batch mode within eight hours each day.”

When the barcode on a label is scanned, the scanner display shows not only the order data along with the quantity and item number or name, but also the carousel level, storage box and compartment. If the storage position is scanned, SAP confirms whether the right position has been accessed or not. And following retrieval, the picker confirms the quantity of articles retrieved by entering a figure on the scanner keypad. This quantity is then checked by the storage management system in SAP, thus offering a second level of security. In the next step the collected items are packed in plastic bags, labeled and assigned to the right pick order in the dispatch department. Thanks to the transparent storage procedures and high access speeds of the vertical carousel, individual small components are quickly found and can be delivered at top speed. The transparent storage management in SAP has reduced inventory discrepancies and thereby lowered warehousing costs. Moreover, with the reliable and transparent order picking processes in the storage management system of the SAP host system, inventory discrepancies in the small parts storeroom have also been eliminated and thereby costs reduced.