Valve storage at a water pumping station

When a water pipe bursts every minute counts

To allow quick repairs to be carried out on the pipeline network operated by Lake Constance Water Supply, the manual warehousing system used at the pumping station at Süßenmühle near Sipplingen and at the Stuttgart site has been thoroughly modernized. State-of-the-art Hänel Lean-Lift  systems create far more space with their height-optimized vertical storage of spare parts. Integrated storage management makes the warehouse easier to organize, and controlled access to the stored parts increases security when items are retrieved.

The Lake Constance Water Supply facilities are managed by seven regional offices. With a water pipe network around 1,700 km in length, more than 3,000 inspection shafts, a number of pumping stations and 14 energy recovery systems, they are the largest non-profit water supplier in Germany.

Optimum warehousing with the latest storage technology

If the complex water supply systems are to be efficiently maintained and repaired, quick provision of spare parts is essential. Otto Staib, Head of Distribution at the Lake Constance Water Supply Competence Center, emphasizes: “When a shut-off component in a shaft needs to be repaired, work must be carried out swiftly as our water supply systems are not allowed to run dry. If a spare part lined up for the repair job is missing, the consequences could be fatal.” So the new warehouse building at the Süßenmühle pumping station was equipped with state-of-the-art storage technology. Because of the problematic subsurface directly by the lake, however, the floor area had to be limited to 700 m2. Pipes are stored in a compact mobile racking system, long goods in cantilever racking and heavy pallets in the high-bay racks. Christian Grüner, Head of Machine Technology says, “With the manual mobile retrieval device we can reach every point in the warehouse and achieve smooth interaction between all the storage elements.”

Two Lean-Lift  vertical storage units from Hänel were purchased for smaller components such as shut-off valves, water pumps, fittings and cables. The height-optimized storage concept allows the lifts to make full use of the storage volume and create more space. Rapid retrieval is ensured by grouping parts together in assembly units on the containers.

The electrical spares are stored in the Hänel Lean-Lift  in front of the electrical systems workshop, and mechanical components in another vertical lift in front of the mechanical systems workshop. An additional access point at the rear of each storage unit enables parts to be retrieved quickly by both workshops.

Pallets holding bulky pumps are placed on a container on the dockable transport cart by means of the retrieval device.

The practical sliding mechanism enables items to be placed in the lift effortlessly and ergonomically. Moreover, the high-speed doors on the storage units protect the electronic components, fittings, seals, shut-down valves and tools from light, dust and contamination.

Controlled access improves security

Users log in at the Lean-Lift  control unit with their company ID cards which are RFID-tagged. “Access is software-controlled: different access rights are allocated, especially for containers holding valuable tools and special machinery for piped water pumps. This specific requirement for our pumping station was implemented by Hänel without any problem,” says a satisfied Christian Grüner.

Well-equipped for future demands

The central administrative building in Stuttgart also houses the regional offices for the greater Stuttgart area. “With the steady increase in the number of components over the years, our Stuttgart equipment depot was bursting at the seams. And our manual warehousing system with the Perspex storage boxes was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Building an extension in the residential area, however, would have been far too expensive. With four space-saving H nel Lean-Lifts  we were able to do away with the chaotic storage areas in the basement and first floor and consolidate our stock. First of all, however, we had to improve the structural characteristics with a solid foundation in the basement and then break through the basement ceiling,” explains Otto Staib.

Replicating the concept used at the Süßenmühle pumping station, seals, bolts, pipe couplings, pumps, shut-off valves, frequency converters, terminals and electrical tools are grouped together in assembly units for quick and easy retrieval. Frame attachments 205 mm and 280 mm high are bolted to the containers to prevent the items from shifting during transport.

The Lean-Lift  on the outer wall has an additional access point both on the first floor and in the basement with fold-away support rails at both sides. This enables heavy-duty pumps to be put into storage at the Stuttgart site on pallets using a crane or stacker, or simply to be transported from the first floor to the basement.

Smart storage management locates articles quickly

Item master data are kept updated in the SAP system and any changes are transmitted to the storage management software. That way, Hänel’s integrated storage management guarantees order in the warehouse and transparency in the Lean-Lift  cluster. With the article pool management feature, item data can be entered on the touchscreen of the lift controller without specifying a storage position. Data that has already been transferred does not have to be entered again. Conversely, the easy input of order or article numbers, storage positions or article names in the supplementary data fields means that components can be searched for in all four Lean-Lifts  simultaneously and quickly found.

Password protection increases security at the retrieval point, as only authorized users can access containers that have been allocated a password.