Working in the world’s largest filter plant, we are faced with various specific requirements on a daily basis, requirements that need to be met. It is for this reason that we opened a new supplier logistics centre (LLZ) in Marklkofen in September 2015. This expansion will allow us, in future, to make considerable progress towards rectifying key logistical issues, such as long travelling times or long supply times for production materials.
The supplier logistics centre is located directly on MANN+HUMMEL’s company premises, and we are supported in our daily operations there by our logistics partner FIEGE. There are around 20,000 storage units located over an area of 20,000 m2. On site, 50 FIEGE employees handle 5000 different materials for 90 MANN+HUMMEL receiving points. Goods are stored in a high-bay warehouse and block stacking areas so we can supply our colleagues in production with materials and semi-finished products directly from the LLZ.
Digitisation opens up new paths
Our colleagues are supported by a driverless transport system (FTS) as they cover countless miles on their forklift trucks each day. A considerable amount of planning was required before this automated transport system could be implemented; an exciting process with a successful outcome. A specially prepared route connects the storage hall with the various production plants on the site. This covers a total of 350 metres, and includes an underground section. Here, the vehicles travel along their route, collect materials and then deliver them to their respective target destinations. Of course, we also gave a great deal of thought to the question of how the driverless vehicles would find their way without colliding with each other or the tunnel walls. The solution was highly technical and innovative, and involved the use of laser reflectors which oriented themselves using mirrors on the walls. The mirrors are mounted in different positions on the wall, allowing the laser to identify the vehicle’s location, the direction it needs to travel in and what the appropriate speed is. The process works in the same way for oncoming traffic. The technology on the vehicle senses objects in the immediate vicinity thus enabling it to react in an appropriate manner, and making collisions a thing of the past. The transport trolleys travel this route around 240 times per day, with a handling volume of approximately 700 pallets.
The FTS is controlled via modern image recognition systems and is managed by a master computer. Product materials are requested via our SAP system. This allows us to define precisely which goods can be collected from which location and, of course, where the vehicle should deliver them to. Thanks to this technology, we are able to make direct deliveries without any intermediate steps, with a time saving of up to six hours in comparison to before.
Logical advancements in logistics
There have been a number of changes since I started working in logistics at MANN+HUMMEL. The speed with which processes and technologies are advancing has increased significantly and this will no doubt continue to accelerate in future. Without the support of various IT systems, the organisation of the logistics department in its current form would simply not be possible. We have seen huge advances in everything from manual processes to digital systems that enable the control of storage and transport tasks. The depth and pervasiveness of the information flows processed by systems such as these has profoundly changed and shaped the company, and therefore logistics as well, from purchasing to production right through to sales.
Part of my work involves enhancing methods and processes, and checking that they are economically viable. Something which is still considered too expensive, too complex or too volatile today could well be a practical option tomorrow. Using this approach as a basis, we use networks, trade fairs, media and internal meetings to define new approaches or to refine established methods. After all, even small optimisations and improvements can yield a tangible, overall enhancement. As such, it fills me with pride to be a part of this team and to bring success to the company with my ideas.