Logistics service provider Active Ants will deploy AutoStore, a compact storage system for small goods, in its new warehouse in Nieuwegein, the Netherlands. The company has contracted the services of automation specialist Egemin Automation to design and integrate the system. Active Ants provides warehousing services to various webshops in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. It has enjoyed strong growth over the past few years. AutoStore will provide the operators with automatic means to make the optimum use of available floor space in the warehouse and the goods. This will allow Active Ants to store up to twice as much volume as with any other storage system and to work more efficiently and safely. The installation is to be completed by April 2016.
UP TO 100% INCREASE IN STORAGE
Active Ants stores and packs goods for its customers and controls the distribution. These are usually small items, such as DVDs, T-shirts, books or toys, which nevertheless require a lot of storage space. “AutoStore has been specially designed for the storage of such small goods. At Active Ants, we will implement a system of 28,000 bins arranged in a predefined grid. We stack the bins and place them as closely together as possible to maximise the use of floor space. The AutoStore robots automatically pick the right bins and take them to the operators, who then take out the right goods and process the order further,” says Marcel Spruijt, Sales Manager at Egemin.
ERGONOMIC AND READY FOR GROWTH
The storage system must be both compact and ergonomic. The order pickers no longer need to lift the bins or travel for miles between the racks. The AutoStore system automatically transports the right bins from the grid to the pickers. Thanks to Egemin’s 3D rendering of the pack and pick stations, Active Ants was able to adjust in advance the way the employees would work with the system.
The system is fully scalable and extendable. If Active Ants continues to grow, it will be able to add grids with bins to their existing AutoStore installation. Stacking bins also has other benefits for the customer. The goods remain clean because dust cannot settle on them, and the system prevents theft.
AUTOMATED FROM STORAGE TO SHIPPING
The AutoStore system for Active Ants has two picking stations, each equipped with six packing stations. A pick-to-light system indicates from which bin segment the order picker must take an item and which order bin the item should be placed in. Ready-to-go orders will be taken by a bin conveyor to a location where they will weighed and photographed. Some will first be taken to another part of the warehouse, where larger or fixed items will be added manually to the shipping parcel.
Eventually, the order bins arrive at the packing tables, where they are scanned automatically, and the packing instruction will then appear on the display. The shipping label and the order form are printed so that the packer can complete the order. The empty bins return to the pick stations and the shipments go to the expedition department. “To achieve the most efficient, ergonomic and economical solution, we worked on the design for the pack stations in close cooperation with Active Ants. The pack stations can be easily expanded in line with future needs and at peak loads,” concludes Marcel Spruijt.