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Logistics Business Magazine

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Maximum dispatch efficiency and dynamics through mechanized shipping buffer

If you ask logistics experts to describe the typical problems in the outbound and shipping areas of the distribution center, you receive the same answers since many years, regardless of which industry segment is considered: On peak days - not enough floor space, high manpower requirement, insufficient clarity, and excessive waiting times for outbound trailers. In times with low workload - unused floor space, under-utilized staff, and too many forklifts.

WITRON has addressed these problems with an innovative shipping buffer used to automatically store and provide Euro pallets and roll containers at the same time, thereby improving the material flow within the shipping area and optimizing trailer loading for improved trailer utilization.

Parallel storage and transportation of pallets and roll containers
The WITRON shipping buffer has a modular design. Picked order pallets and roll containers are conveyed to the shipping buffer and stored double-deep or triple-deep respectively. To increase system availability, roll containers are always transported and stored on system pallets. These system pallets are automatically removed at outfeed so that the roll containers can be provided for shipment by themselves.

All load carriers that belong to one tour are stored in the same module. One or two high-speed stacker cranes, equipped with flexible telescopic forks, supply the shipping lanes with dispatch units from each module. These lanes are connected to the buffer. Patented WITRON technology enables both Euro pallets and roll containers to be transported over the same dispatch lane at the same time. With this core innovation, all load carriers are provided in the right loading sequence and at the right time - sorted by tour and even by store.

Outbound trailers are assigned to dispatch lanes upon arrival. This assignment is flexible and managed by WITRON's WMS. The dispatch units will be loaded manually onto the truck. Pallets and roll containers are provided from the buffer in the right sequence by tour and store over these dispatch lanes. The very short distance between the shipping buffer and the loading dock allows manual trailer loading to be carried out very quickly and efficiently.

Different temperature zones including frozen goods in one shipping buffer
The modular design of the shipping buffer has additional benefits. For example, the individual modules can be divided into different temperature-controlled areas. Different products like dry goods, fresh products, dairy products, fruits, or vegetables, and even frozen goods can be stored without any problems in the same shipping buffer. Separate outbound areas for every temperature zone - leading to a greater overall warehouse footprint – belongs to the past.

Numerous Benefits
Altogether, the new automated WITRON shipping buffer offers numerous benefits:
• High cost-efficiency due to footprint savings - higher buffer capacity with same space or less space with same buffer capacity
• High cost-efficiency due to reduced trailer dock time based on considerable savings in the trailer loading time
• High cost-efficiency due to savings of personnel based on an effective dispatch handling
• Reduced number of forklifts due to the automation of processes
• Parallel and automatic buffering and dispatch provision of Euro pallets and roll containers in one system due to modular design and patented technology - independent of article spectrum or temperature zone
• Sequenced provision of dispatch units - optimized and IT-controlled for every tour or store, sequenced based on loading sequence and "just-in-time" for shipping
• High dynamics due to short distances between the shipping buffer and the dispatch dock
• Decoupling of picking and shipping with the automated buffer allows continuous operation of the fully-automated picking system - even 24 hours a day - and at the same time, an efficient and demand-related use of operators during loading times. Thanks to the transparent storage of picked customer orders in the shipping buffer, picking is also possible in phases with no loading activities and without the shipping area being overfilled.
• 100% anti-theft protection, as goods are not accessible in the shipping buffers
• 100% loading control, as the load carriers leave the shipping buffer in the right sequence directly via the dispatch lanes towards the person responsible for loading

Optional software module enables exact trailer filling calculation
An optional software module developed by WITRON carries out an exact trailer filling calculation for every outbound trailer type and size. WITRON's order picking system knows exactly the master data of every article (length, width, height, volume, weight), and based on this data, customer orders are automatically picked onto pallets or roll containers according to a stacking matrix. Hence, the IT system knows the exact quantities, weights, and the loading volume of every customer order including the load carrier. With this information, the software module generates a filling calculation to optimally use the load space of the outbound trailer - no matter if it is loaded with pallets or roll containers - sorted according to the right loading sequence. The consequence: Considerable savings in transport costs and elimination of unproductive working times for manual pre-sorting and re-sorting.

Positive impact on the CO2 balance
WITRON's energy-efficient technologies and processes have a positive impact on the CO2 balance of an enterprise. Densely packed load carriers, picked on the basis of proven stacking algorithms, in combination with a highly effective dispatch process, ensure an optimum trailer load. By maximizing trailer utilization and thereby improving the efficiency of the route in terms of fuel consumption and emissions, WITRON is making a significant contribution to environmental protection.

The first WITRON shipping buffer for Euro pallets and roll containers will be used in EDEKA Suedbayern's new logistics center in Landsberg am Lech. Other WITRON customers throughout the world have already ordered this new technology or are in the process of integrating it into their new distribution center designs.


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