© ebm-papst

Busy helpers in the ship­ping center

ebm-papst is using a clever automa­tion solu­tion to make its ship­ping logis­tics more effi­cient and less burden­some for its employees.

Can we do things more effi­ciently? This is what the managers at ebm-papst’s logis­tics center in Hollen­bach asked them­selves. Every day, the fork­lift drivers there were making dozens of trips to take boxes from a pack­aging line to the delivery points 30 meters away. This was a repet­i­tive task that also tied up a lot of personnel. “We wanted to make the processes more effi­cient and relieve the burden on our team,” says Markus Zink, Project Manager of the auto­mated guided vehicle (AGV) system at ebm-papst. “After all, it’s diffi­cult to find skilled workers.”

The logis­tics managers were looking for a solu­tion and, together with Linde Mate­rial Handling, planned an AGV system in which three auto­mated Linde high-lift trucks initially brought the boxes from a pack­aging line directly connected to produc­tion to the indi­vidual delivery points.

The result was impres­sive: instead of the 36 trans­port oper­a­tions planned, the auto­mated guided trans­port vehi­cles managed up to 50 trans­port oper­a­tions per hour. As Zink explains: “We then expanded the system to include addi­tional source/drain rela­tion­ships, i.e. the route from the starting point to the desti­na­tion. We were able to use existing stable processes in the ship­ping center, as well as our SAP-EWM inter­face, making it possible to operate the vehi­cles completely autonomously. The biggest chal­lenge was to map the complexity of the mate­rial flows on an auto­mated basis.”

The ebm-papst logis­tics hub.

At the 225-metre-long cross-dock hall there are 51 docking ramps. Around 100 trucks leave the company every day at the 30 goods issue ramps.
Around 2,500 pallets are shipped every day.

12 auto­mated trans­port vehi­cles in use

The effort was worth it. A total of twelve AGVs now shuttle back and forth between three pack­aging lines, the consol­i­da­tion area, the special pallet ware­house, and outgoing goods. They have their work cut out for them, trans­porting between 1,400 and 1,500 parcels a day:  up to 100 per hour. “And that’s with almost 100 percent avail­ability,” says Zink with satis­fac­tion.

A lot of traffic in the logis­tics center

A sophis­ti­cated safety system keeps things running smoothly between all those involved. When the vehi­cles are in motion, they project two red signal strips to the side as well as an addi­tional warning icon on the floor.

After some initial skep­ti­cism, employees at the Hollen­bach logis­tics center have inte­grated the auto­mated trans­port vehi­cles into their daily work routine. And since real team members need their own names, they were also chris­tened right away. Mia, Lina, Emil and Co. are truly pulling their weight every day. 

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