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Automotive supplier enhances performance - Refurbishment optimises scheduling

The automated channel storage system of automotive supplier IAC in Bad Friedrichshall serves as a buffer between production and order picking. From there, precisely timed deliveries of floor carpets to its renowned automotive customer in Neckarsulm take place. Kardex MLOG refurbished the existing storage and retrieval machine and the control technology and warehouse management and material flow control systems.

Neuenstadt/Bad Friedrichshall – The manufacturer’s production facilities set the pace in the automotive sector. Suppliers must always keep in pace so that production is not disrupted. On behalf of the IAC Group, a supplier to almost all major automotive manufacturers, Kardex Mlog retrofitted a storage and retrieval machine to increase its efficiency and to adapt the performance of the entire plant to the increasing demands of the OEM.

 IAC produces floor carpets in Bad Friedrichshall that are supplied to a renowned premium manufacturer in nearby Neckarsulm. Delivery is timed precisely in accordance with the just-in-sequence principle, so there is no intermediate storage on the customer’s premises. As soon as they are delivered the parts are channelled into the production process for assembly. This places high demands on the supplier’s delivery capabilities, which depend crucially on the availability and flexibility of the warehouse. The automated channel storage system that IAC operates at the site serves as a buffer between production and order picking. Following a change of model the manufacturer has stepped up production of one model range, which significantly increased the quantity of floor carpets required.

Performance of existing components enhanced

It was decided to upgrade and refurbish the existing storage and retrieval machine and the control system including the warehouse management and material flow control systems. This was in order to meet the increased performance requirements and also ensure the long-term availability of spare parts for the storage and retrieval machine and thus ensure trouble-free operation. Kardex Mlog was commissioned to undertake the work. The Neuenstadt-based business is a specialist in the refurbishment not only of older machines and components manufactured in-house but also, as in this case, of third-party equipment.

The Neuenstadt team had set itself a goal of a 20% increase in throughput. A larger increase would have required further work on the hardware and mechanical components, which would have entailed a higher investment and greater cost. So the team focused mainly on the replacement of the existing S5 components with S7 programmable logic controllers and new communications technology, including new Profibus-compliant ET200 assemblies that transfer all signals to the higher-level control system. In the course of the refurbishment Kardex Mlog was also able to make the order picking dialogue more up-to-date and user-friendly, which reduced the error rate during order picking. The entire drive technology was also updated. The machine was fitted with two new drives for the traversing and lifting gear and the new MOVIDRIVE drive control system from SEW. The existing gears could be retained.

More space without significant modifications to the steel structure

Nevertheless, the expert team was not entirely able to avoid carrying out any mechanical work. However, this was not done to increase performance but to optimise storage capacity. By extending the C rails of the individual shelves, additional space could be created for a further 300 floor carpets without extending the actual racking structure. Kardex Mlog pursued this particularly efficient strategy of small but effective interventions not only in the detail but also throughout the operation. Refurbishment work which aims to improve performance and availability must naturally affect ongoing operations as little as possible. An essential component of the Kardex Mlog refurbishment concept was therefore to ensure that disruption caused by the refurbishment work was minimised as far as possible. All of the preparatory measures were, for example, carried out from Saturday morning until Monday morning. Commissioning took place during the company’s annual holidays at the end of the year. Three-shift operation could be maintained as usual on weekdays without limitation and thus the entire refurbishment was completed on schedule in less than three months. Commissioning took place in spring 2011.


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