One million driving jobs in six months: It’s fair to say that MANN+HUMMEL’s Marklkofen fleet of forklift trucks is never short of work. Working across three shifts, six narrow aisle trucks and four forklift trucks have the task of ensuring all materials flow smoothly between goods in and goods issue. Around 2500 pallets leave the plant every day – the equivalent of 70 lorryloads. With volumes increasing year on year, our colleagues in shipping were approaching full capacity in 2014. This meant we needed a plan to increase the efficiency of the shipping zone in the long-term.
We started by looking at storage and removal from storage in relation to delivery notes, as well as pre-order picking by the high-rack stacker. Previously, each delivery note was being collected individually by employees from the nearby shipping office. All in all, the process was costing the lorries a lot of loading time.
Against this background, we wanted to find a transport guidance system that could be integrated centrally into SAP. The objective was to assign the driving jobs to all forklift trucks via one central pool, avoid the use of paper, and have an overall system for all delivery notes. To ensure improvement in the long term, the planning team outlined a number of functions that the new system would have to have. One example of such was a visualisation of the job’s current progress or a restriction on the amount of delivery notes needing to be processed simultaneously. In the end, we decided the best option, since it met all our requirements, would be the FLX-TLS transport/forklift guidance system made by Flexus AG.
It took less than five months to introduce the new system in its entirety, enabling the new processes to be used. The new system enables us to view the driving jobs worked on by the team that day, as well as by individual employees.
As the driving jobs get broken down into multiple stages, it is clear to each of the 32 forklift drivers who has which task. The narrow aisle trucks in the high-bay warehouse, which take care of storage and removal from storage, as well as pre-order picking, keep aisle changes to a minimum thanks to the transport guidance system. Having two narrow aisle trucks in the same aisle is now a thing of the past too! Pallets are transferred in a clearly defined zone in front of the high-bay known as the ‘Vorfeldplatz’ (the ramp space). This is where containers are transferred from the forklift trucks responsible for pre-loading, loading and unloading the lorries.
The FLX-TLS transport guidance system assigns the next driving jobs automatically using an optimisation logic and shows them on the forklift terminal. This ensures that the most urgent delivery notes are prioritised, with the option now there for each delivery note to be picked by multiple forklifts in parallel.
Shorter turnaround times
After a year of using the Flexus solution, we are pleased to report that things are going very well. Turnaround times have been reduced by seven percent; the routes we take meanwhile have even become around 15 percent shorter. With our capacity now being better utilised, we have managed to significantly improve overall performance from the same number of employees and vehicles.
In March 2016, our efficiency increased even further with the introduction of a semi-automated control system for our narrow aisle trucks. As such, the devices now travel to their target location in the warehouse either automatically or semi-automatically. This new system also reduces the employees’ workload, as they no longer need to think about getting the equipment to the right part of the warehouse.
As well as speeding up working processes, the new transport guidance system has also helped to increase quality. This is because the forklift driver can now affix labels on to the goods issue pallets as soon as items are removed from storage, which was not previously possible. Each shelf aisle now has a printer, which can be managed from the forklift terminal. After the pallet is received, all staff need to do is tap the touchscreen. The label is then all ready on the printer by the time the forklift driver reverses out of the aisle and is affixed right away.
In a nutshell, we have added a modern and ground-breaking system to our logistics processes, which is going to ensure that we can meet future requirements too. A milestone on the road towards Logistics 4.0 has been reached!