German manufacturer of extraction and filter units for companies in the electronics and metal industries, among others, Teka has described how automation and finely-honed processes developed by humans work together to optimise material flow at its facility in Coesfeld, Germany.
”We still want to automate as much as possible in the future. At the moment, however, we are already very effective in our warehouse management, mainly thanks to many internally developed processes,” says Klaus Pier, reports with satisfaction. With his team, he ensures smooth processes in the Teka warehouse – and these are more extensive than ever in terms of quantity and complexity. More than 600 picking tours, consisting of a single article or several components for the high-quality filter and extraction units of the internationally active manufacturer are created here every day. A total of about 30,000 items are stored in 14 rows of shelves or in the new fully automated high-bay warehouse for small parts, waiting to be moved.
”The needs of our customers are constantly changing. We have numerous standard products, which we are also increasingly selling via our online shop, but we are particularly well known on the market for our custom-made products. All of this means that we need modern warehousing for fluctuating throughput volumes, which tend to increase strongly, and changes in product ranges, as well as for our planned growth. Here at headquarters, we are constantly reviewing and adapting our warehouse structures and processes in order to make our delivery quality flexible and cost-effective,” says Teka Managing Director, Erwin Telöken.
The process chain begins with the incoming goods. Three employees ensure that everything runs smoothly. Via scanner, the colleagues with access to their own database can see whether the article is needed for production or is going into the warehouse for stock. The commissions are planned and packed at ground level with a generous lead time. This saves time once again.
For optimal material flow, the items from the central warehouse and the new, fully automated Kardex small parts warehouse, the so-called dispo warehouse, are brought together. The warehouse is completely paperless. Instead of warehouse slips, hand scanners and tablets provide transparent information about orders, articles and picking tours. Large-format dashboards additionally create an overview of picking tours, incoming goods, free storage locations and optimisation potential. ”This helps immensely and makes all warehouse processes more transparent and flexible,” says Pier.
In order to assemble the picking tours as quickly as possible, five employees are constantly on the move in the main warehouse with so-called ”high-speed trucks”, riding-on electric high-lift trucks. The routes are prepared by the storage system in such a way that each shelf has to be approached only once. Shelf no. 14 is stocked with the top 100 articles in high demand which are requested several times a day, and are added manually. The permanently allocated space is indicated by scanner labels. In particular, the work processes have changed for warehouse employees who are on the move in the dispo or small parts warehouse.
The new high-bay warehouse is an innovative automated storage solution that offers Teka advantages for its storage and order-picking processes in many ways. In work preparation, it is determined which articles have to be scheduled for which order. The only interaction between humans and Kardex racking: The employee confirms the item removal and the completed dispo picking tour. The system knows where the items are located on the 10 shelves. Each shelf is 4 m wide and 6.50 high and is equipped with 22 trays each. Each tray can transport 500 kg. This creates capacities. The products are brought forward automatically. The employee only has to concentrate on the removal: This enables faster order picking with more accuracy. Due to the time savings, even several picking tours can be processed at the same time. If the picking tour is completed in the small parts warehouse, this is confirmed manually by scan. In the same way the software also determines how much storage capacity is available on the shelf.
The status of each picking tour is also accessible at any time in order processing. Here, too, the employee can intervene and, for example, speed up the pace and initiate new picking tours or change the sequence.
”We want to automate as much as possible in the future, but the human factor is still indispensable in our well-coordinated warehouse team,” says TEKA Managing Director Erwin Telöken.
Further warehouse optimisation is still underway – controlled by the incoming goods department and supported in all steps by the TEKA IT. ”The cooperation here is very good,” confirms Lea Heermann. An internal working group is dealing with further process optimisations step by step. How can the two warehouse systems be brought even closer together? Customer returns are managed transparently in the warehouse and can be processed immediately. The TEKA warehouse is also well positioned for the TEKA online shop. ”We expect to stock even more items in higher quantities in the future,” says Erwin Telöken, looking optimistically at sufficient capacities.