ACHBERG is a well-known developer and producer of system components for the bulk goods industry – including containers and pipe systems made of stainless steel and aluminium that are used in the plastics industry. There is a high demand for materials when building large systems involving a lot of sheet metal and many pipes. This has led ACHBERG to modernise its warehouse technology as part of the expansion of its production facility in Achberg and to opt, in particular, for automated processes in this area. In Remmert, the company recruited an experienced expert for the project to deliver modular solutions that have brought significant improvements in productivity at ACHBERG.
Before the reorganisation of the warehouse system, pipe bundles were stored on and removed from cantilever racks by means of forklift trucks. When the decision was taken to expand the existing production halls, the project managers asked themselves what kind of warehouse technology would be most suitable for accommodating a lot of material in a limited space. The challenge: to optimise the material flow with the same personnel and the same production space. The objective behind this was to minimise downtimes, increase productivity and boost throughput. The materials handling expert Remmert was chosen as the project partner, and it was then a matter of holding joint meetings to determine the optimal material flow in the company.
Various project layouts were developed for two separate systems: the sheet metal storage system and the long goods storage system with a connection to the existing pipe laser. An important consideration was that moving the pipe laser would have been an extremely costly and time-consuming undertaking. The long goods storage system was designed with this in mind. Pipe bundles are now transported directly to the machine via a removal station. Originally, the materials were delivered by forklift trucks, a process which involved downtimes. In order to increase the operating times of the pipe laser, the decision was taken to opt for automatic warehouse technology and automation units with stock removal options, which are able to deliver the long goods quickly and directly to the pipe laser for further processing. A bridge storage system is used for this: this is able to provide materials to users quickly and by the shortest route. In addition to a storage and retrieval machine with optimised movement above the storage towers, materials are brought in by means of a tunnel solution. Not only is material put into storage via the incoming goods station, the tunnel also serves as access for delivery of blank sheets to the sheet metal storage system.
Sorted storage under one roof
The central issue for ACHBERG was complete separation of white goods (aluminium and stainless steel sheets) from black goods (steel sheets). With this in mind, two sheet metal lasers provided by the customer were integrated into the system and supplied with white and black goods respectively using two separate sheet metal handling systems from Remmert (LaserFLEX). A further requirement of ACHBERG was a high degree of automation. In future, the Remmert system will carry out complete and separate handling from storage of the raw materials through to removal of the finished cut metal sheets.
Aluminium and stainless steel sheets are delivered by the sheet metal supplier with layers of paper between them to protect the metal surfaces. The LaserFLEX module from Remmert blows these paper interlayers off reliably into a collecting device so that the laser cutting process is not hindered. The cut sheet metal is carried away from the metal laser automatically by the LaserFLEX. In this process, a layer of plastic is inserted between each metal panel so that the surface of the metal parts is not scratched. With the integrated modules from Remmert, it is possible to complete all of the storage and handling processes using a compact concept that saves on resources and product and is suitable for multi-shift operation.
Another area where the Remmert solution provides significant benefits is the modular principle behind the standard components. This allows the individual products to be linked and used with one another and thus to create material flow concepts that meet the customer’s needs. It also brings flexibility and freedom in configuration of the specific processes. It forms the basis for optimal internal transport from incoming goods to loading of finished products. Underpinning all of this are the requirements of ACHBERG’s end customers which can sometimes deviate from one another significantly – a true test of the modular capabilities of Remmert’s well-established portfolio. Users achieve measurable increases in productivity and ensure maximum security for the future of their systems, which can grow flexibly with the increasing requirements of production.
High flexibility through modular design
“In principle, Remmert modules can be compared with Lego bricks: modular components are put together to create new overall solutions which can be extended at any time as required”, explains Frank Baudach, Sales Director DACH at Remmert. And that was the crucial point for the customer. “What impressed us from the outset was the fact that our production requirements form the basis for the concept. Take, for example, long goods and sheet metal: Remmert’s solution took account of the entire material flow”, comments Gerd Maass, founder and owner of ACHBERG. Independence from manufacturers, modular expandability, planning reliability and a solution with the smallest space requirements were other important factors.
The result speaks for itself: through the use of a MIDI 3015 sheet metal storage system designed with blocks that rotate through 90 degrees, it has been possible to make efficient use of the available space. Two LaserFLEX systems, each with a loading and unloading unit, ensure that the material changeover times for both laser machines are no more than about a minute. With SMART control and an incoming/outgoing goods station, it was possible to improve the material flow in shift operation, deliver efficient separation of black and white materials and implement a central control system for the largely automated warehouse operations. “Another important point for us was independence from specific suppliers, allowing us to choose the right laser for our production chain”, explains Maass. “We will therefore be able to modernise easily and implement changes smoothly in future.” The decision-makers at ACHBERG are already planning an expansion of the modular system in future.
Advantages of a modular system and independent automation in intralogistics
- Flexibility when using various components in a range of application scenarios
- Future reliability thanks to the option to update systems gradually with the latest technology as required
- Increase in efficiency and productivity through automation and reduction of internal transport distances
- Smooth integration of the automation system, independently of specific machine manufacturers