Recently VanRiet was featured in an article in Polish magazine 'Magazynowanie i dystrybucja' on sortation systems. You can read the translated article below.
Demand for sorting
Wherever it is necessary to send a massive quantity of shipments, consisting of just several or more than a dozen completed units in a short time, various sorting technologies automating this process are used. Their key tasks are speed and effectiveness. And off course minimizing mistakes which are not difficult to make when done manually, with such a large number of orders.
Due to the dynamic development of the e-commerce market, there is a growing demand for warehouse solutions that ensure fast and accurate order picking. The requirements of consumers who expect goods ordered online being delivered the next day, mean that the sorting processes in the warehouses of large online stores must be rapid, and at the same time error-free.
The sorters’ main task in warehouses, cross-docks or distributional centers is contributing to the process of product distribution. In many cases, they are an integral element of the complete transporting system and trans-shipment of goods in retail, wholesale selling, and all distributional steps in online trade. Their main goal is to provide automated data transmission of shipments sent for dispatch. However, they can combine more functions, such as packing operations, labeling individual elements, and mail-order packaging, generating mail-order documents, invoicing or monitoring the weight of the package.
Directions of innovation
Technologies that at some period in time were only to be found at early adaptors, are becoming the standard today. Two different approaches can be distinguished. In traditional B2B distribution channels the main carrier is the euro pallet and the process focusses on efficiently filling space on this carrier as well as in the trailers transporting them. The B2C distribution channels are more focused on the so-called shopping basked of online shoppers in which products of al sorts, small and big are to be found.
– Worldwide manufacturing trends in distribution and transport enforce companies to optimize the costs of their processes, both production and the full supply chain. Cost optimization can be carried out by several activities, such as a change in manufacturing technology, production automation, optimization of material and goods flow, JIT systems, flow management, IT guidance and control systems- says Mikołaj Ruta, Director of Innovation and R&D at WDX S.A.
- In distribution and transport, the key process parameters are loading and unloading time, picking goods in a warehouse, and the safety of the transported goods. The time of loading and unloading along with the internal completion of the products is particularly important during handling - adds Mikołaj Ruta.
Furthermore, the expert notes that for a long time production plants focused their activities mainly on production automation, paying less attention to logistics automation. The warehouse industry was mainly focused on process improvements and optimization of the warehouse space. Available technologies in warehouse logistics are very slowly replaced by modern storage systems based on automatic material flow.
- The reason for this is a very high price, and thus - a long payback period and the need to erect dedicated storage buildings, allowing the construction of high storage racks with stacker cranes - explains Mikołaj Ruta.
WDX S.A. product offer covers several applications of the elements in which proper configuration gives the possibility to create sorters. It includes Q Shuttle, forklift systems, elevators and of course shelving, thanks to which the automatic full-pallet sorter can be configured. Today, a hot topic in the industry of internal transport and sorting systems is its digitization through data collection and analysis, as well as the use of robots.
- The integration of robots in distribution centers is the start of a new stage in automation. Robotic technology is very advanced and widely used in various processes where we are dealing with objects of standardized shapes and sizes – convinces Jarosław Gorczyński, Managing Director of BEUMER Group Poland.
A challenge for integrators and producers of robotic technologies in storage systems are items of various shapes, weight, size or packaging material used. To date, no robot gripper that can meet all the challenges that the human hand performs neutrally has been created - adds the expert. In the field of digitization, the largest suppliers of sorting solutions already have very advanced solutions in use.
- Since several years e-commerce companies are developing into wider platforms and more and more often they also undertake activities into providing logistics services. Amazon is the clearest example of this. Many similar activities are to be observed in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, where leading e-commerce companies provide logistics services for smaller entities, seeing clear potential for further growth. This results in significant SKU increases, but also a greater variety of product dimensions and types. Therefore, sorting systems have to deal with these changes so that the distribution processes of this quickly evolving companies are smooth, fast and competitive - says Przemysław Świtacz, Sales Manager Central & Eastern Europe at VanRiet.
VanRiet is a global specialist in the field of automated transport and sorting solutions in the courier express parcel (CEP) and warehouse and distribution (W&D) industries. Over the years, the company has innovated its flagship HC Shoe Sorter continously.
-As a result, we have developed high-performance sorting technologies, capable of handling a very wide range of products: from typical cardboard packaging or plastic boxes to increasingly used, but more difficult to handle, plastic bags (or polybags). Om top of that, we recently introduced the HC Smalls Sorter, which premiered during this year's Parcel + Post Expo - adds Przemysław Świtacz. Thanks to this Shoe Sorter, VanRiet can handle even the smallest packages.
So when it comes to the rapidly growing number of SKUs and their different fertility there is a range of proven VanRiet solutions and products that successfully can be implemented in many warehouses.
For several years, VanRiet has been developing its own unique "VanRiet Standard 4.0" program consisting of the implementation of integrated software connecting many departments within the company. Thanks to this it can significantly reduce the time needed for concept development and project implementation. For this it uses Demo 3D software. The sales department uses it to configure the layout and to perform calculations. Engineers use Demo3D to design components to customer specifications and to generate electrical diagrams and PLC codes. It can also be used to perform simulations to test the system.
- It should also be mentioned that the software that manages the system or the sorter itself can easily be integrated in the WMS or ERP system, so the user can manage the automation from one central place. However, this is not all. Apart from managing the flow of goods, we are developing predictive Maintenance technology. Thanks to it, we can supervise the machine's operation in terms of its reliability, plan inspection plans in detail, reduce spare parts inventory, and above all prevent failures, for example during the peak season - says Przemysław Świtacz.
The optimization of sorting systems advanced over the years. Today, technologies such as 3D visualization, Machine Learning or data analysis are integrated in solutions offered by BEUMER Group.
- They allow even greater optimization and performance of sorting systems, as well as extending the life cycle and increasing availability. 3D visualization allows real-time access to data from each section of the sorting system and allows visualization and analysis of the material flow. Based on the "digital twin" sorting process, material flow analysis allows insight and optimization of production processes inside the warehouse - explains Jarosław Gorczyński.
BEUMER helps warehouses and distribution centers to use this technology in monitoring their sorting systems to eliminate potential defects or failures, and perform maintenance before downtime occurs. One of the benefits of having access to this data and the ability to properly analyze is its ability to identify which system component must be checked in the event of a problem. This saves the time needed for error diagnostics and allows the sorter to be quickly reinstated.
In the automotive sector BEUMER Group has implemented a conveyor and a picking and sorting system at the ILS European Logistics and Development Centre in Zakroczym. The system is integrated in the WCS (Warehouse Control System), which manages the entire flow of material. ILS is a logistics company within the Inter Cars group that provides storage and transport services for both companies from the capital group and external clients. Inter Cars is a Polish company and the largest distributor of spare parts for cars, trucks and other means of transport in this part of Europe. It has several hundred branches, servicing thousands of car garages, both in Poland and many other countries.
When the increasing amount of delivered and stored parts began to outgrow the capacities of existing logistics centers, ILS decided to build a new, automated European Centre for Logistics and Development in Zakroczym near Warsaw. The warehouse has over 300,000 unique references, and the number of items is over 7 million car parts and consumables. The complex consists of four warehouses. The largest, with a footprint of 30,000 m² and a height of 10 m, is equipped with four-level rack and shelf buildings. The other three warehouses have a size of 5000 m² each. Tires and hazardous materials, such as oils or solvents, are stored there, which must be stored in separate, adapted rooms for fire safety reasons. Products are divided into different categories, similar to the sizes of clothes S, M, XL, and XXL, depending on the size and weight. Order completion takes place in two stages. The employee, along with the set number of containers on the forklift, moves between the shelves and collects goods according to the information appearing on the mobile terminal.
Small and medium-sized parts are collected from the shelves in parts (batches) to complete multiple orders in one collection. Then the containers are set aside on a conveyor and transported automatically to a sorter packager. The WCS system divides the incoming containers into one of three input (induction) zones, depending on the content.
- The conveyor system delivers the container and its contents to the operator's station, where objects are taken out, identified with a camera and put on the sorter. Empty containers automatically return to the delivery area. After sorting, the items are repacked into transport packaging, which is then automatically transported to the quality control system and closing area for the shipping sorter to be delivered at the appropriate shipping station - explains Jarosław Gorczyński.
The sorting system is based on the BEUMER BS7 Belt Tray sorter and depending on the operating mode it can achieve a capacity of 14,000 items per hour without pre-separation, and 27,000 when used with WCS-controlled pre-sorting.
E-Commerce in need
VanRiet recently installed a sorting system in the warehouse of Orsay in Poland. Orsay is a fashion brand for women with 600 stores in Eastern Europe, Germany- Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland. In Poland, Orsay operates both in retail and e-commerce. This second distribution channel is growing rapidly, and the management of Orsay concluded that the existing infrastructure was no longer efficient enough. To keep up with the two-digit number growth, a solid, futureproof solution was needed. The heart of the new system is the VanRiet HC Sorter.
- Cooperation with VanRiet resulted in very good advice throughout the whole project, which led to the successful implementation of their high-quality sorting technology, increasing our performance - says Anna Fresel, Manager of the Orsay Wrocław Distribution Center.
Good, fast and reliable sorting is crucial, that's why the VanRiet HC sorter is a perfect match. The products are packed in a wide range of box sizes, as well as in plastic bags that HC Shoe Sorter handles perfectly. The sorter achieves a capacity of 6.000 products per hour, and shipments are divided into one of 46 directions.
Download the original edition of the magazine here. The article can be found at page 60.