Fortna, a leading automation and software company for the full logistics value chain, has partnered with Elten, manufacturer of safety and occupational footwear, to consolidate and upgrade its central warehouse in Uedem, Germany.
Responding to steady growth and rising customer demand for greater speed and flexibility, ELTEN commissioned FORTNA with the design and implementation of the project, which will be rolled out in stages and during ongoing operations. The go-live of the miniload AS/RS in April 2023 marked the completion of the first construction phase.
Founded in 1910 and now in the family’s fourth generation, ELTEN employs over 400 people. The company headquarters in Uedem on the Lower Rhine include offices and warehousing, along with the end production of safety and work shoes, which are sold online and distributed to B2B and B2C customers worldwide.
“With over 5,000 order lines daily, a trend that has been rising steeply for ten years now, we have known for a while that our logistics operations would have to adapt if we wanted to stay competitive in the future,” says Georg Maxwill, Head of Supply Chain Management at ELTEN. “We started construction of the miniload on an adjacent site back in 2020 with a view to centralizing all processes so as to improve the volume and efficiency of our operations and increase our turnaround times. The FORTNA team supported us, as they have in all our projects since the original construction of our current building at the start of the millennium.”
From manual to automatic: 22 meters tall, eight aisles, a footprint of 5,250 square meters and a storage capacity for 143,840 cartons containing shoes, insoles and shoelaces – all of these are the cornerstones of the new miniload warehouse making significant improvements to the intralogistics processes. “Before the construction phase even started, a new WMS was installed in anticipation of the forthcoming automation,” explains Waldemar Ungefug, Project Manager with FORTNA. “The miniload system now consolidates all incoming items – shoes and shoe components – from third parties and ELTEN’s production. We expect the connection of the automatic storage system to the outbound processing in Phase 2 to happen equally flawlessly during ongoing operations.”
The second phase of construction is planned for completion by the end of 2023. Phase 2 will include the expansion of shelving capacities through the installation of a mezzanine and new conveyor technology to ensure automatic replenishment of the order picking area, as well as connection to outbound goods. This is also where order sorting takes place, with orders reaching their final destinations via shipping companies or CEP service providers.
“Integrating the miniload into the existing operations without any problems and the improvements we gain from the new systems and processes are vital for the positioning of our company,” says Georg Maxwill. Equally important, automation will help ELTEN overcome the challenges it faces in finding qualified labour. “However, our team needn’t be worried about losing their jobs because by consolidating our fulfilment in one place, Uedem is increasing its processing capacity, thereby, requiring additional staff.”
Capacity expansion and centralized processes enable ELTEN the ideal conditions to meet changing customer requirements and to process orders quickly and flexibly both now and in the future, even with substantial long-term growth.
FORTNA partners with the world’s leading brands to transform omnichannel and parcel distribution operations. Known world-wide for enabling companies to keep pace with digital disruption and growth objectives, we design and deliver solutions, powered by intelligent software, to optimize fast, accurate and cost-effective order fulfillment and last mile delivery. Our people, innovative approach and proprietary algorithms and tools ensure optimal operations design and material and information flow. We deliver exceptional value every day to our customers with comprehensive services and products including network strategy, distribution center operational design and implementation, material handling automated equipment, robotics and a comprehensive suite of lifecycle services.