Complete system for automated material flow

Pandolfo Alluminio spa

“Please provide us with a detailed material flow plan for the automation of our rack transport with a view to increasing production in the medium term to 35,000 tonnes per year!” With that request, made by Gianfranco Pandolfo, Board Chairman and principal shareholder of the Italian extrusion plant Pandolfo Alluminio to the logistics specialists H+H Herrmann + Hieber, a modernisation and extension programme unique in the branch began. Its result sets new standards.

To begin with H+H worked out a general plan, which was then implemented in several stages designed so that section production would be interfered with as little as possible. The particular problem in this project was the need for maximum flexibility. Owing to the arbitrary assignment of the material to furnace units and packing stations, the number of logistical options is large.

In the heat treatment area the entire production of all four presses had to be arbitrarily assigned to any of the total of seven heat treatment furnaces. This is done by an automatic crane which moves over the full width of the shed. At the outlet of each furnace special buffer positions have been installed. All the racks emerging from the heat treatment furnace are registered by this control system.

The registered racks are stored intermediately and sent as necessary to the individual packing stations. In this area as well the requirement for unrestricted flexibility applies: any rack can be assigned to any packing position.

For this work area a so far unique transport and storage system was developed. Owing to the numerous transport options and the consequent large storage area, a system of several automatic cranes was provided. The cranes involved operate redundantly, i.e. they match their actions flexibly to one another. Moreover, as a special feature an automatic system for optimising all the transport and storage movements is provided, which covers all the transport equipment. In practice this means that for every task the optimum (shortest path, least number of individual movements, etc.) is sought. This is done having regard to the system as a whole, i.e. the rack movements are co-ordinated automatically in accordance with the predetermined optimum.


The entire sequence is controlled by a central transport management system. The logistical aims are:

  1. automated material transport
  2. absolute flexibility, i.e. all aggregates can be approached
  3. linking of the material flow to and from Plant 2
  4. automatic return transport to the central scrap collection area and the foundry …

These aims have been successfully implemented. In this case the following had to be ensured:

  • greatest availability of all the equipment
  • no damage during transport
  • high safety standards
  • no obstruction of the shed floor area.
  • These requirements too have been fully met.


In 2016 the production increase required could not have been implemented with the existing logistics system. As the company’s logistics partner, H+H was therefore called upon to supplement the system installed for the planned volume increase. H+H achieved that adaptation in a cost-optimised manner with the help of a series of individual measures. In essence the measures focused on three aspects: improved transport dynamics, the provision of additional storage spaces and the extension and rationalisation of the packing facilities.

To achieve the required better packing performance two new packing positions with dual section stackers were installed. In addition the existing packing positions were optimised. In total, the plant has eleven packing stations, some for different – even customer-specific – packing methods.