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Beckum, 05. September 2019

BEUMER Group supplies conveying and sortation technology for Inter Cars' new European Logistics Centre to ensure smooth material flows:

BEUMER Group installed the entire conveying, picking and sortation technology for car parts dealer Inter Cars S. A. at its new European Logistics Centre near Warsaw. This includes a warehouse control system (WCS) that manages the entire material flow. Optimising its throughput and minimising costs, Inter Cars gets the spare parts now even faster to workshops and customers all across Europe. For this project, the system supplier BEUMER Group has permanently stationed employees on site as part of its residential service. They take over responsibility for availability and maintenance of machines and systems.

"Inter Cars was one of the most important projects for us to successfully complete in Poland," Sandra Lückmann sums up. She is business development manager at BEUMER Group in Beckum, Germany, and was responsible for the successful handling of this order. What was remarkable: "As system integrator, we designed and installed the entire conveying, picking and sortation technology for the spare parts dealer at its European Logistics Centre, including our WCS, which controls the goods receipt, quality assurance, picking, packing and goods issue."

Spare parts distributor with potential

Inter Cars is one of the leading spare parts distributors for passenger cars, transport vehicles and trucks. The company, headquartered in Poland, has several hundred subsidiaries and branches spread all across the Baltic states and the Balkans. In addition, there is a nationwide network of approximately a thousand workshops. The previous logistics centre in Czosnów, Poland, supplied smaller distribution centres all over Europe who then supplied the workshops and customers. The increasing number of stored and delivered parts, however, started to exceed its capacities. The managers decided to build a new automated European Logistics Centre in Zakroczym, approx. 30 km from Warsaw. The in-house logistics provider ILS was commissioned as general contractor - "and this is how we got involved as system supplier of intralogistics solutions", says Sandra Lückmann. "At the end of 2013, ILS called our Polish subsidiary. At the time, the project was still in its design phase. We only knew how many parts needed to be sorted in a given period of time."

Up to 7 million parts

In January of 2015, BEUMER Group got awarded the contract, installation started in September of 2015, and the start-up process began the following September, with completion in December. Inter Cars closed the previous logistics centre at the end of 2016, the new European Logistics Centre went into full operation in May 2017. "Currently, around 7 million parts like spark plugs, brake disks, V-belts, batteries, but also more bulky goods, like exhausts and hoods, are stored here, basically everything needed for cars," explains Lückmann. The complex is comprised of four warehouses, the largest one with 40,000 square metres, ten metres in height. It is equipped with a four-story shelving rack. The other warehouses have a surface of 5,000 square metres each. Here they store tyres and hazardous material, such as oils and varnishes, that must be kept separate for reasons of fire protection.

The products are divided into different clusters, similar to clothing sizes into S, M and XL, depending on dimension and weight. "Items are picked in two stages," describes Lückmann. With a set number of containers placed on a trolley, the employee drives along the aisles of the shelves, collecting all the components displayed on the hand-held reader. The small and medium parts are taken out of the shelves in batches, consolidating multiple orders into one picking wave. The containers are then placed on the container conveying system and transported automatically to the packing sorter. "Depending on the content, the WCS distributes the incoming containers to one of three induction areas," explains Lückmann. The conveying system transports them to the workplaces where the items are taken out of the containers. Each item is identified with a matrix camera and placed on the sorter. Empty containers are returned to the feeding area by the conveying system. "We provided our BEUMER BS 7 Belt Tray Sorter for this sorting process," explains Lückmann. This system manages a throughput of around 14,000 without presorting, and up to 27,500 items per hour when using the described presorting process.

Destinations ensure gentle sortation

Power and data transmission on the BEUMER BS 7 is contactless. This prevents mechanical friction losses and wear and tear. Compared to conventional cross-belt sorters, this sorter has 50 percent less components, which reduces maintenance costs by 80 percent. Energy requirements are also reduced during production and operation. The distance between the individual conveying elements on the BEUMER Group systems is reduced to a minimum. The use of belt trays makes it possible to have narrower, more closely arranged destinations. Therefore, the sorter requires less square footage. "The special feature of our BS7 are the 361 specially developed destinations that ensure careful handling of the very different spare parts," so Lückmann. Everything must be sorted and discharged while keeping the packaging intact. To this end the destinations are divided in two parts. If the spare part weighs up to 1.4 kilogram, the WCS classifies it as "light", up to six kilograms as "heavy". This way the heavier parts are placed in the container or cardboard box before the lighter parts when the order is packed.

"The XL items from the main storage are handled differently," explains Lückmann. "Their size means that only one spare part fits in one container or box." Therefore, they are conveyed directly to the consolidation area by the container conveying system. The same happens with items from other warehouses like tyres and hazardous material. Together with the items from the packing sorter, the shipping units consolidated in containers and boxes for the respective orders are weighed, compared with the target weight, closed, labelled and then strapped. The container conveying system transports them to the connected shipping sorter that distributes the consolidated orders to up to 50 different dispatch destinations, at a capacity of 2,500 containers per hour.

And what if the spare parts are not working or are no longer needed by the customer? "They go back to the logistics centre in Zakroczym," explains Lückmann. Employees examine the returns: is the part damaged, was it just not needed or was it the wrong choice? If it is still in its original condition, it goes back to the warehouse. The material flow for all these processes throughout the entire distribution centre is controlled by the WCS, from goods receipt to goods issue. The orders are sent from the operator's warehouse management system.

Residential service: BEUMER Group assumes responsibility

BEUMER Group continues supporting the project even after this point. ILS opted for the residential service, a special component of the BEUMER's comprehensive customer support, to focus more on their own core business. "With this 24/7 service, the BEUMER employees ensure availability of the machines and systems," reports Jaroslaw Gorczynski, General Technical Director, Poland. "It must be perfectly coordinated during the entire operating time, so that all processes run smoothly." The team has its own control room, and the workplaces were designed in a way so that potentially critical areas can be reached as quickly as possible.

The BEUMER Group employees also perform preventive maintenance work. Gorczynski explains: "This way, we can avoid unplanned machine breakdowns that can get very expensive for the customer." The team carries out maintenance and inspection work on the systems at defined intervals. They also check the safety devices, electrical components and automation technology. And they can perform repairs that might be necessary in case of an unscheduled failure of components. The team checks the technical installations and maintains them regularly, at agreed intervals. The contract with BEUMER Group runs over five years until 2022.

Guaranteed system flexibility

"Our systems and machines fully met the customer's targets. The system offers high levels of availability, high and precise throughput and can be easily adjusted to changing customer requirements. The same holds true for our modular WCS," describes Lückmann. The owner is very happy with the cooperation: "We were able to accommodate all requirements. Delivery, installation and commissioning went all according to plan." The companies are currently in talks about an extension of the system.

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"We support our customers in growing"
Beckum, 19. June 2019

Interview with Thomas Wiesmann, Director Sales Logistic Systems at BEUMER Group

At LogiMAT in Stuttgart, BEUMER Group presented its newly developed BG Sorter from the sortation and distribution technology segment. The high-capacity system enables precise and controlled processing of a wide variety of packages. The system integrator also has an efficient warehouse control system in its range for optimum flow of goods. In an interview, Thomas Wiesmann explains how users can benefit from this comprehensive competence and what trends they can expect. He is Director Sales Logistic Systems at BEUMER Group.

Mr. Wiesmann, at LogiMAT you showed the newly developed BG Sorter, which BEUMER Group first presented in 2018. How was the high-speed sortation system received in the market?

Wiesmann: Very well. We have already been able to implement some exciting projects since the market launch. This includes, for example, the new distribution centre of Austrian Post in Wernberg in Carinthia. Up to 30,000 parcels are handled on a daily basis. Our BG Sorter is at the heart of the centre. Availability, reliability and, above all, speed are valuable assets in this industry and are of paramount importance to our customers. With our system, Austrian Post will be the only parcel service provider in Austria to deliver parcels six days a week, from Monday to Saturday. The BG Sorter is powerful, energy-efficient and extremely quiet – much to the benefit of the employees.

What makes this high-capacity sorter so special and how do users benefit from it?

Wiesmann: With our BG sorter, operators benefit from very precise and controlled sorting with maximum flexibility. This means that both tilt tray and cross-belt sorters can be used in customer systems. The new sorter family provides the ideal variant for any type of items. The BG Sorter CB ("cross belt") is a reliable solution for sorting a wide variety of articles such as parcels and bags. The so-called "full cross belt design" means that the maximum belt width is ensured. The actual benefit for the customer: More usable belt area is available with the same sorter size. The risk that products remain lying between the belts is reduced. The tilt tray design also offers some advantages. We have designed the tilt trays so as to prevent items from getting stuck between the trays. The so-called "closed deck" closes the gap between them. This function reduces downtimes and avoids possible damage to the sorter or the goods. Users can handle items of different sizes with more flexibility. The tilt tray version can transport items weighing up to 60 kilograms. Furthermore, the construction series is available either with the proven OptiDrive, which is based on servo drives, or the contactless linear synchronous motor as the drive system. Both reduce energy demand and CO2 emissions compared to products offered by our competitors.

With this development, you have combined the best of Crisplant technology with the best of BEUMER technology. Can you give us more information?

Wiesmann: Both Crisplant, which today operates under the name of BEUMER Group A/S, and we have acquired extensive know-how in the development of high-quality sortation systems over decades. Since the acquisition in 2009, we have been able to expand our portfolio, exploit synergies and further expand our strengths in technology. The BG Sorter combines future-oriented features, which set new standards in sorting as large a product range as possible. Providing our customers with this scalable system, we facilitate their future growth and enable them to respond to changes in the market.

What demands do online retailers make on sortation technology today and how have they changed over the years?

Wiesmann: The competitive pressure on postal and CEP companies continues to increase. They must not only save costs, but also adopt a more environmentally conscious approach and follow market trends. Basically, material distribution technology is becoming more complex, and the systems must be able to perform increasingly specific tasks or adapt to changing conditions. Highly efficient processes are necessary to ensure quick delivery of parcels to the customer. Mail order companies are offering more and more products whose dimensions previously made it difficult to transport them automatically. In order to meet the increased performance requirements, more automation is required. In addition, the number of the required sortation and distribution systems is increasing, as more small-scale distribution centres are being built close to customers in order to be able to supply them even faster.

As a system integrator, you offer a flexible and modular warehouse control system (WCS) to control complete material flows in distribution centres from goods receipt to goods issue in real time. What are the features of this solution?

Wiesmann: Our WCS centrally connects and controls material flows from quality assurance, picking of goods and order picking to goods issue, always in accordance with the actual occupancy rate. How effective this system is can be seen, for example, in the new European logistics centre of the Polish automotive spare parts supplier Inter Cars near Warsaw. There it controls the packing and goods issue sorter as well as the put-to-light system in the goods receipt department, coordinates the automatic provision and application of the labels required for shipping the goods, and handles the routing of the individual items on the conveyor lines. This route planning optimises the performance of the system and controls the distribution of the various spare part types.

As an additional module we also offer our BG Fusion system to operators. This visual display system provides the operator with a web-enabled user interface for configuration, monitoring and reporting. It displays system data as alarms in a uniform and centralised way and shows status messages, fault messages and all relevant data. The entire system status can be monitored via the interface to the machine control. BG Fusion combines machine and order data so that the responsible employee can track the current order status in real time.

Why are such software systems becoming more and more important, and what are the concrete benefits for the user?

Wiesmann: The software systems serve as link between the customer's enterprise resource planning (ERP) or warehouse management system (WMS) and the entire material flow equipment. They ensure that the products reach the right place in the desired time within the distribution centre. Operators can perfectly coordinate their processes, increase throughput and reduce costs. With our know-how in sortation technology, we know exactly how to use these systems so that the user gets the most value out of it.

When developing the WCS software, what did you focus on?

Wiesmann: Unlike many competitors, our focus is not on adapting the customer's processes to the WCS. We rather adapt the system with its modular design to the respective needs of the customer on a project-by-project basis.

Outlook for the future: What challenges do you see for the logistics industry, and how must providers develop their IT skills?

Wiesmann: E-commerce is picking up speed and we are expecting double-digit growth per year in this area. In order to hold their own against competitors, the future success of mail order companies and logistics service providers will depend even more on the performance of their distribution centres. To increase performance, digitisation is inevitable.

What does that mean in concrete terms for us as suppliers? To position us for the future, we must complement our expertise in machines and systems, including the necessary software and controls, with digital innovation. We have competence in mechanical engineering. Here in Germany, there are many hidden champions who are global leaders with their products and systems. In my opinion, it is more convenient to adapt digital technologies for the required digital competence. For this purpose, we founded the BEAM GmbH in Berlin. With this autonomous company builder, we want to solve B2B challenges that are unique to the logistics industry in cooperation with start-up teams. For this we are planning on founding three start-ups per year and transfer them, consolidated under BEAM, into a separate company. Our goal is to open up new, but also disruptive business areas in logistics.

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