Electronics wholesaler Sonepar expands AutoStore facility with Robotics Pick and Pack solution from Kardex

18 August 2022, Company News

Sonepar in Switzerland takes efficient logistics to the next level by investing in a robotic picking system. This makes them pioneers within the global Sonepar group. In the future, a Robotics Pick and Pack solution from Kardex will process small-part orders in a fully automated manner and raise the performance and profitability of Sonepar's AutoStore system to a whole new level.

Zurich, 18 August 2022 – As a leading electrical wholesaler, Sonepar Suisse AG offers customers from trade, commerce and industry a huge selection of high-quality electrical items and materials for their daily needs. Sonepar sells more than 220,000 products through its own web shop, with the promise of delivering orders within 24 hours.
In 2020, Sonepar's new Central Distribution Center was put into operation. After a two-year construction phase, Wallisellen is now home to Switzerland's first wooden high-bay warehouse. A high-performance AutoStore system was already integrated during construction. As the first company of the globally operating group, Sonepar has now invested in the first robotic order picking system in Switzerland. Order fulfillment has thus been optimized for current tasks and the company has prepared itself for future market requirements in the best possible way. Within the AutoStore system, small parts are stored in around 55,000 bins. Battery-powered robots are presenting the storage bins at the AutoStore picking stations (so called Carousel Ports) on an order-by-order basis. Until now, order picking at these Carousel Ports has been performed manually at Sonepar.
"Investments into our Supply Chain are always a benefit for our customers. With automated and digital processes, we increase our quality while saving time when processing orders, which enables us to offer an even better service to our customers", says Benjamin Ertl, Head of Supply Chain at Sonepar Suisse AG. „Our Central Distribution Center is already an undeniable success story in terms of sustainability and automation. We consider the Robotics Pick and Pack system from Kardex the ideal overall solution for current and future requirements. The project is under execution, going live in Q1.2023. After almost five years of planning and intensive discussions around robotic order picking, a dream is coming true for us.“

Fully automated, precise picking with 3D vision

The overall solution, which is being integrated by Kardex into the existing processes at Sonepar in Switzerland, includes a Robomotive portal robot that will serve two AutoStore Carousel Ports simultaneously by picking items fully automatically from AutoStore bins and placing them into order cartons. Using 3D vision cameras and intelligent software algorithms, the pick and place robot replicates the precision and synchronization of a human's eye-hand coordination. As a result, the robot is able to handle items of various shapes and sizes without master data or teach-in processes. The "auto-learning" function ensures that new articles can be handled efficiently. Furthermore, it enables continuous optimization of operations.
Another integral part of the overall Kardex solution is a compact packaging machine which will take care of erecting, providing, sealing and labeling the order cartons, before transporting them to the shipping area via the existing material flow. The state-of-the-art picking solution will achieve a performance of more than 300 picks per hour. See before and after in the following pictures:


2022-08-02 Sonepar 3D Overview_v2 (1)

Designed for 24/7 operation

In 2020, Kardex acquired a majority stake in the Dutch company Robomotive, which has specialized in the development of smart robotic technologies since its foundation in 2011. Since then, the intralogistics expert and global AutoStore partner Kardex has been able to offer fully integrated robotics solutions from a single source. These include item pick and full case solutions for automated warehouse picking.
Robot cells integrate easily with AutoStore systems, enabling previously unimaginable performances. They operate 24/7 when needed - a critical component in an era when customers place orders around the clock from all over the world. The advanced features of the pick and place robots enable them to handle a diverse and constantly changing product range. They work with various AutoStore processes, including pick-to-tote, pick-to-belt, pick-to-pallet, consolidation and replenishment, and they integrate with various warehouse systems, sortation systems and packaging machines. The innovative technology consisting of 3D cameras, flexible mechanical grippers and intelligent software algorithms enables precise detection, localization, gripping and placement of unknown items arranged in any order, even in segmented containers.
All business processes and material flows are fully transparent. Robotic applications enable 100% digitized workflows and significantly improve the quality and reliability of logistics processes.

About Kardex

Kardex is a leading intralogistics solution provider of automated storage, retrieval and material handling systems. With two entrepreneurially managed divisions, Kardex Remstar and Kardex Mlog, the Kardex mission is to provide solutions and services to increase the efficiency in storing and handling of goods and materials on a global scale.

The two divisions serve as partners over the entire life cycle of a customer's product or solution. From project analysis to realization and service, Kardex helps improve a customer’s performance every step of the way. With three own production plants in Germany and one in North America Kardex ensures high quality solutions. To maintain and strengthen its competitive position within technological innovation and outstanding customer loyalty, Kardex is investing in research and development, its supply chain, the expansion of its service organization as well as in new technology via acquisitions. Kardex actively partners with global leaders who share the same values and complement the Kardex solutions including AutoStore, Rocket Solution, Robomotive, Intertex and Sumobox.

Kardex employs 2'000 team members across 30 countries and has installed over 140,000 industry-specific solutions worldwide.


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