Automated material flow between production, warehouse and dispatch

Ensinger GmbH

At its parent plant in Nufringen the plastics processor Ensinger GmbH has automated the flow of goods and products between the production areas, the newly built warehouse and the consignment work stations. The system developed and supplied by H+H, with a sturdy auxiliary pallet, has demonstrated its value and promises long-lasting automatic operation with maximum availability. Overall, the equipment installed at Ensinger should point the way ahead.

As part of a major investment production facilities have been extended, a new store for semis has been built and fully automated material transport has been installed. Above all, the latter system offers many advantages. Ultimately, it has for the first time enabled the potential of the new warehouse and the capacities of the consignment stations to be utilised to the fullest extent. As regards the efficacy of the investment as a whole, the automated material flow plays a key part.

Previously, production took place in a two-storey building with extruders on the upper level and, below that, among other things the heat treatment of the semis (tempering shop). In the context of the expansion a new building was put up, with a new high-bay warehouse immediately adjacent to it. The link between the existing shed and the new-build is in the form of a connecting bridge. On the upper storey of the new shed production areas have been extended, while on the lower level rationally operating consignment work stations are provided and the sawing machines are accommodated. All these working areas are interlinked with one another and with the new high-bay store for long goods by conveyor systems.

The newly built warehouse is designed as a honeycomb store. The load carriers (“skids”) are relatively lightweight sheet metal structures that move on slide-rails. With a view to trouble-free operation it is decisively important that the slide-rails of the honeycomb cells are not damaged. Moreover, it is essential that the skids are not distorted during transport.

By far the  most important measure for ensuring this is that skid transport outside the warehouse generally takes place on sturdy auxiliary pallets. These are designed such that the skids, whose own inherent rigidity is insufficient, are supported at eight points.

A further measure for protecting the load carriers is that there are no skid slide-rail elements outside the warehouse. When the skids are moved, this takes place on an auxiliary pallet (both when the skids are empty and when loaded), by means of lifting mechanisms. Finally, the skids are additionally protected at all their support points on the auxiliary pallet by adhesively bonded plastic strips. All load carriers on their way to the warehouse are routinely inspected visually – even when returning goods to store from the consignment or sawing stations.

With all these measures the transport system achieves the required high degree of availability. H+H Herrmann + Hieber considers that it can guarantee the customer an overall equipment availability of at least 98 percent.

This extensive transport system combines numerous conveying components: conveyor stretches with distribution trolleys, vertical conveyors, hoists, a turnstile, an automatic crane and others. The system not only transports goods but also ensures that skids and auxiliary pallets are available when needed at any point, without delay. Capacity forecasts and planning and the automation system are managed by a master material flow control system. Besides the assignment of tasks to the conveyor components and the handling crane, the system is also responsible for warehouse management and visualisation.