Reaching higher

Jungheinrich is launching a new generation of the EKS medium/high-level order pickers. As a result of new developments, the lift truck achieves optimum performance with high storage density in a small space and is claimed to be the fastest truck with the largest order picking height for use in high-bay warehouses.
“We have trimmed the new EKS 412s for maximum performance, and in all matters that are important for use in the warehouse: performance, efficiency, ergonomics and safety,” explained Jungheinrich board member for marketing and sales Christian Erlach. “This enables us to offer our customers significantly higher throughput in a narrow aisle warehouse.”
New high-performance mast
The EKS is equipped with a novel staging-free triplex telescopic mast, which is said to be unique in its class. At more than 14 metres, the EKS offers the tallest order picking height of all vertical order pickers on the market. With a lifting speed of 0.5 metres per second, the EKS 412s is 25 per cent faster than its predecessor, which is currently the fastest available.
The new EKS 412s combines performance and energy efficiency. By using a fuel-efficient synchronous reluctance motor, Jungheinrich has halved the energy losses on the motor side and increased the efficiency of the motor. In addition, the redesign has significantly reduced the weight of the EKS. Combined, this results in energy savings of more than 10 per cent.
Jungheinrich offers the EKS 412s with two battery options: proven lead-acid batteries and modern lithium-ion technology. The company guarantees that the lead-acid battery powered EKS can cover two shifts with just one battery charge. This saves time and reduces operating costs. The use of lithium-ion technology guarantees high performance and maintenance freedom, fast charging time and a particularly long service life. Jungheinrich offers customers a 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee for its lithium-ion technology with a full conversion right.
During development of the EKS, great importance was attached to the needs of the driver. The transition-free strokes of the new telescopic mast avoid shock impacts, ensure comfort and enable high-performance operation. Thanks to the optimised operating concept with all functions within reach, handling the EKS 412s is particularly easy.
All relevant information can be viewed at a glance through the operator’s large colour display. Additional windows in the cabin rear wall ensure significantly improved all-round visibility.
Another focus in the development process of the new EKS 412s was the issue of safety. Intelligent assistance systems ensure maximum safety combined with high travel dynamics and performance. These include a mobile personal protection and collision protection system, which ensures that the EKS complies with the necessary safety clearances thanks to obstacle detection by laser scanners. This enables the use of multiple trucks in a narrow aisle.
The Jungheinrich warehouseNAVIGATION system allows for additional performance and efficiency. Using the Jungheinrich Logistics Interface software, the truck can be easily and safely integrated into the IT system landscape available to the customer. Using RFID transponders in the ground, the truck detects its current position within the aisle. The operator simply has to give the travel/lift command and the truck approaches the pallet location automatically in diagonal travel mode.

Brambles finds US$2.5 billion in plastic crates

Brambles has announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to sell its IFCO reusable plastic containers (RPC) business to Triton and Luxinva (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) for an enterprise value of US$2.51bn. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and is expected to be completed during the second quarter of calendar year 2019.
Brambles’ chairman Stephen Johns said: “In August 2018, we announced that we would seek to separate IFCO through either a demerger or a sale by way of a dual track process. As well as progressing the demerger option, a robust and competitive sale process generated strong interest. We are pleased today to announce the sale of IFCO which we believe delivers greater value for shareholders, including a significant return of cash proceeds to shareholders.
“The IFCO team has been an important and valued part of the Brambles business, and on behalf of the Board I’d like to thank them for their contribution over the past eight years. The interest shown in IFCO during the separation process is testimony to how highly appreciated the IFCO business is, and we wish Wolfgang Orgeldinger and his team every success in the future,” Mr Johns said.
Brambles’ CEO Graham Chipchase said: “The sale will allow Brambles to focus on our strategic priorities and to pursue continued revenue growth within our core markets, whilst also reviewing additional opportunities in emerging markets, through product and service innovation and use of technology through the supply chain. Our ambition remains to lead the platform pooling industry in customer service, innovation and sustainability.”
In FY18, IFCO generated revenues of US$1,098m, EBITDA of US$248m and Underlying Profit of US$133m1.
Brambles expects to receive approximately US$2.36bn of net cash proceeds from the transaction, after taxes, transaction costs, and balance sheet items, subject to customary closing adjustments.
Return of proceeds to shareholders
Brambles intends to return up to US$1.95bn of proceeds from the transaction to shareholders, through a combination of a pro-rata return of cash of approximately US$300m and an on-market share buy-back of up to US$1.65bn. The balance of the proceeds will be used to repay debt to maintain leverage in line with the Board approved credit policy.
The pro rata return of cash, which will be made to all shareholders, is expected to be approximately 29 Australian cents per share, in line with (and in addition to) Brambles’ annual dividend payout.

Jungheinrich boosts investment in Li-ion tech

Jungheinrich AG and Triathlon Holding GmbH have come together to found JT ENERGY Systems GmbH, a joint venture focused on the production and recycling of lithium-ion battery systems.
Jungheinrich holds a 70 per cent share in the joint venture with Triathlon taking the remaining 30 per cent. The company is due to begin operations in August 2019. JT ENERGY Systems intends to create around 100 new jobs at the plant in the next few years.
Both Jungheinrich and Triathlon are known for their industry-leading level of expertise in the field of lithium-ion technology across a wide variety of applications. This extensive knowledge will be combined within JT ENERGY Systems. The aim of the joint venture between Jungheinrich and Triathlon is for the two companies to expand their production capacities to cover the ever-increasing demand for lithium-ion battery systems and to further develop their technological leadership in this field. JT ENERGY will supply products to both companies.
Chairman of the board of management of Jungheinrich AG Hans-Georg Frey said: “For our customers, energy efficiency and maximum truck availability are key competitive advantages. We support them in this with a range of trucks and products that utilise the benefits of lithium-ion technology. The exponential sales growth we have experienced in recent years shows that the intralogistics sector is making a decisive move toward lithium-ion technology.
“Jungheinrich recognised this trend early on. Today, we act as a one-stop shop offering everything from our own energy storage devices and power units to battery chargers, and our comprehensive expertise in energy makes us innovation leaders within the sector. This collaboration with Triathlon will enable us to leverage further untapped potential in the market for electric trucks and drive the development of this future technology forward.”
Managing director of Triathlon Holding GmbH Martin Hartmann said: “We are proud to be taking this step with a company as well respected as Jungheinrich AG. We believe that the joint venture will see us achieve greater economies of scale and scope that will in turn increase our competitiveness considerably. Going forward, this move will give our customers and partners access to an even broader range of cutting-edge lithium-ion battery systems based on the latest technology.”
JT ENERGY Systems is due to begin operations in August 2019.

Get your FACT right – from MHD magazine

Mal Walker

People often ask me: what is the secret to distribution centre (DC) design? I’m not sure that I have a secret to share, just logic, common sense, and experience (including a lot of mistakes on the way). However, I will share four design tenets that I’ve found useful and formed into the acronym FACT.

  1. Flow.
  2. Accessibility.
  3. Capacity.
  4. Traceability.
  1. Flow

– is about ensuring that goods can be moved around the DC in an efficient manner. Easy? Not so!
For your facility to flow properly, there are six critical processes to cover:

  1. Receiving.
  2. Inwards goods staging.
  3. Storage.
  4. Picking and packing.
  5. Outwards goods staging.
  6. Dispatch.

Depending on your business, there maybe two additional ones: returns and value-adding tasks.
Bottlenecks and double handling can occur at any one of these points, if flow has not been correctly addressed. How do you know if your flow is suspect? Symptoms include multiple handling of goods, waiting time, pedestrians mixing with forklifts, long travel distances to goods, and accidents.
In planning for optimal flow, it is useful to think ‘one way’, and to allow plenty of room for movement. Avoid giving in to the temptation of jamming storage into a building. If you do, you will more than likely suffer from excessive operating costs. 

  1. Accessibility

This is related to flow. It is critical that all products, in their various forms, e.g. pallets, UBC, cartons, units, litres, etc. are available when they are required. The rule here is: unfettered access to your stock. No blockages, hinderances or bottlenecks. Easy? Not so!

“Avoid giving in to the temptation of jamming storage into a building.”

Too often, operators find that the stock they need to pick is hidden behind banks of other items. Recently I was asked to review a timber yard that specialised in various sizes of timber beams. I noticed that all the same profiles were stored together, regardless of length (which were in 0.3m increments). So, when it came to picking two beams of 5.7m long for an order, the operator spent 42 minutes to complete the pick: 40 minutes to travel to the pick face, move all the other goods, and put them back, and only 2 minutes to pick the required two beams.
In terms of the pick to total time ratio, it is 2/40 or 5%. Only 5% when it should be 90%. In this operation, if we can improve accessibility of stock by providing more pick faces for the range of sizes, we have the potential to improve the ratio by 85%. That’s worth going for.

  1. Capacity

– is about providing enough space within storage modes, for current and future operations. Capacity is related to flow and accessibility – you might have guessed that by now. But here’s a mandate for you. Always provide for enough capacity to satisfy your storage and operational needs. Easy? Not so!
Consider an example that I came across recently. I was asked to review a DC that had outgrown its capacity, to the extent that stock was being stored in aisles and staging areas. This badly affected flow and accessibility. I was told that the DC had 10,000 pallets in capacity. To be sure, I checked, and counted all the locations. Yes, there was indeed 10,000 pallet storage locations!
But something disturbed me. This warehouse was in ‘gridlock’. They could barely operate, and moving pallets in and out required multiple movements. But there was something else: 250 pallets were stored in aisles and staging zones, and 9,000 saleable pallets were recorded as ‘in stock’.
My survey revealed a combination of storage modes, i.e. block stacking, drive-in racking and selective racking. Also, I noticed 150 pallets of returns, and 500 pallets of obsolete stock awaiting write-off by the accountant.
What is the capacity of this warehouse, and what would I advise my customer? Before I cover the maths, here a few truisms to consider:

  1. All storage modes have different utilisation factors.
  2. A warehouse cannot operate at gross capacity.
  3. Obsolete stock and returns take up valuable storage locations and detract from overall efficiency.

So, what is the capacity of this warehouse. My survey of the facility revealed:

  • 1500 pallet spaces (gross) of block-stacking in 5 deep x 3 high configuration.
  • 1000 pallets of drive-in racking in 3 pallets deep x 5 high configuration.
  • 7,500 pallets of selective racking including ground-level pick faces in 5-high configuration.

Now for the maths. To determine capacity, we must consider utilisation factors associated with the use of specific storage modes. Then, we must discount gross capacity to net capacity – net capacity being the maximum that I would recommend to avoid gridlocked operations. Once we have done that, we deduct the non-saleable stock since these pallets are taking up valuable locations for saleable stock.
In this case, my customer has 1,525 more pallets in the facility than it can feasibly operate with. That’s what is causing gridlock, bad flow, lack of access, multiple handling and a capacity crisis.
What should be done to improve the situation?
Firstly, speak to the accountant and purge returns stock and obsolete stock as much as possible, redesign the facility considering alternative storage modes, and if necessary, move excess reserve stock off-site to an alternative facility.
Finally, never forget this truth: never, ever plan your warehouse operations on gross capacity. Only its net capacity.

  1. Traceability

Supposing we have flow, accessibility and capacity nailed. Our next focus is traceability. We must make sure that when stock is moved in, out and around the facility, that it is correctly traced. Easy? Not so!

“Logisticians, please do not forsake the physical, for expediency in recording electronic data.”

With volume increases, expanded ranges of SKU, batch management and use-by-date sequencing, stock management has progressively become more complex. To the point that without sophisticated management and recording systems, operators cannot guarantee accuracy of their operations.
Thus, it’s imperative that distribution centre operators invest in appropriate systems to trace and control stock.
These include radio frequency (RF) scanning equipment and/or voice and visual technologies.
Logistics processes will be different for each DC, but all processes should have a check and confirm transaction sequence tuned to the physical movement of goods. That brings me to the physical vs. electronic rule: physical processes have priority over electronic processes. In other words, design the electronic recording of stock movements to suit the physical process, not the other way around. Sadly, many systems are implemented by well-meaning, but often misguided IT people who do not understand physical logistics. Are you with me? Physical movement is where you burn your costs. Logisticians, please do not forsake the physical, for expediency in recording electronic data.
To recap, applying the FACT tenets, Flow, Accessibility, Capacity and Traceability, is useful to guide one’s thinking in reviewing, designing and running a DC. The outcome of good planning around each of these is reduced risk of gridlock, design flaws and excessive operating costs.
Mal is manager, consulting with the Logistics Bureau, where he works with local and international organisations to guide them in specification preparation, establishment and review of outsourcing contracts. He holds qualifications in engineering, business operations and logistics. For more information contact Mal on 0412 271 503 or email

GTS Freight goes automatic

Transport and logistics company GTS Freight Group is installing automated guided vehicles (AGV) in its new warehouse.
GTS Freight Group is a privately-owned full-service logistics company based in Mildura, which operates a nationwide fleet of over 150 prime movers and over 450 trailers. Due to ongoing growth, the GTS Group is constructing a new depot adjacent to its existing facility. This will incorporate a 10,000m2 warehouse, trailer parking for 60 trailers and a new corporate headquarters for the group.
GTS has ordered a turnkey Dematic AGV system to manage its block-stacked full pallet warehouse. The AGV system comprises two counterbalance AGV utilising QR code navigation within block-stack lanes and Dematic’s AGV Warehouse Control Software (WCS) interfaced with Paperless WMS.
“We wanted an efficient and cost-effective warehousing solution that would allow for continued growth and expansion,” said managing director of GTS Damien Matthews. “We have been a long-time customer of Dematic and the turnkey capability was a big plus. Dematic was selected as it has proven to be a continual performer with years of background history and they designed these AGV to perfectly meet our warehouse needs.”
The AGV have been designed to work in a specific area, receiving stock and putting away and picking full pallets, while part-picking is performed manually, as well as all warehouse housekeeping. The AGV have been designed for GTS with a combination of laser guidance and QR code navigation. The QR codes can allow for more accurate navigation within high block-stacked warehouses, allowing the AGV to operate in high-density storage.
“We are implementing two AGV CB-1200-55-S units, with a height of 6.0 metres and a lifting capacity of 1,200 kg,” said southern regional manager AGV at Dematic Greg Carrington. “The efficiencies that the AGV will provide include the ability to continually work after hours and fit the design of the warehouse to help keep those efficiencies at an optimum.”
One of the key benefits of installing the AGV in GTS’s new warehouse is to be able to perform other tasks that need attending to, including stock maintenance and data entry, at the same time that the AGV are performing the picking tasks. The new AGV are due to go live mid-2019.

Small parts order picker released

Jungheinrich has released a small parts order picker with a total load capacity of 215 kg, operating time of up to 8 km/h and a warning zone light for more safety in retail outlets with public traffic.
The latest generation of Jungheinrich’s EKM 202 small parts order picker has arrived. One of the most important developments is the more than double load capacity compared with the  previous model, making it especially suitable for the picking of small parts of any type without pallets.
In addition to the 100 kg load capacity on the upper shelf, the EKM now has a second storage space with capacity for a further 115 kg. Additional storage compartments on the mast provide the necessary storage space for work materials.
Thanks to its new AC drive, the truck achieves a maximum travel speed of 8 km/h in order to quickly reach the next location during order picking. The 120 Ah lithium-ion battery provides sufficient energy for particularly long and intensive applications.
The unit is equipped with warning zone lights that mark the potential danger zone for use in retail outlets with public traffic. The lights activate automatically when the operator platform is raised, projecting an area around the truck.
The EKM guarantees safe entry and exit with automatic door locking. Jungheinrich also offers the unit with guide rollers for use in narrow aisles or in modular racking.
Thanks to its extendible mast, the EKM 202 can achieve a reach height of up to 5.3 metres. This makes the EKM a safe and efficient alternative to conventional ladders, particularly in retail outlets. Jungheinrich has provided the EKM frame with a robust metal drive frame. The processing of external plastic has been deliberately dispensed with, giving the truck optimum protection against damage. This applies in particular to the drive wheels, which have been placed within the contours of the truck.

Toyota forklifts go on a hydrogen charge

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has put the first Toyota hydrogen fuel cell-powered forklifts outside of Japan into action during trials at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia’s parts centre located at its former manufacturing plant at Altona, Victoria.
The zero CO2-emission Toyota hydrogen fuel cell (FC) forklift demonstration is an extension of Toyota’s simultaneous trial for its Mirai fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), which share the same hydrogen-powered technology.
The Toyota hydrogen FC forklifts with a nominal rating of 2,500kg lift capacity will also be featuring in the official opening of the new Toyota Parts Centre in Western Sydney’s Kemps Creek.
Toyota hydrogen FC vehicles take pressurised hydrogen that is fed into a fuel cell stack, where it is combined with oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity to drive various motors depending on demand for motive power or hydraulic power for steering, braking or lifting loads.
Toyota hydrogen fuel cell forklifts will be especially suitable for logistics and warehouse operations given they can be conveniently refuelled in just a few minutes, offering obvious productivity efficiencies.
Toyota Material Handling Australia general manager – corporate compliance and project development Bob Walmsley said the hydrogen FC forklifts take around three minutes to fill the hydrogen tank, compared with around eight hours to recharge a conventional battery. “This means we can use these forklifts more often, without having to significantly wait between charges or use second-shift batteries to achieve the same utilisation,” said Mr Walmsley.
TMHA president and CEO Steve Takacs said the Toyota hydrogen FC forklifts are another example of the synergies available to Toyota Material Handling Australia from Toyota’s automotive arm.
“In much the same way Toyota’s range of forklift products are researched and developed using Toyota’s advanced manufacturing technologies – and built to the same exacting standards of quality, durability and reliability as Toyota’s automotive vehicles – our engineers collaborate across the Toyota Group to incorporate the latest technologies acquired from our automotive sector,” said Mr Takacs.
“We at TMHA are committed to constantly developing new and better technologies that raise the bar in terms of safety, performance, efficiency and sustainability, which will ultimately benefit our customers.

“These hydrogen FC forklifts are a clear demonstration of our commitment to the environment through the adoption of new and sustainable technologies. They have excellent environmental credentials as they do not emit CO2 or substances of concern (SOC) during operation.
The hydrogen FC forklifts will also be trialled at Toyota’s newest and largest Parts Centre warehouse at Kemps Creek, New South Wales.
The Toyota hydrogen FC forklifts and Mirai are not for sale in Australia, mainly due to a lack of hydrogen refuelling infrastructure. Toyota’s mobile hydrogen fuelling station installed on a Hino 700 Series truck fuelled the FC forklifts and Mirai during the trials.


Toll opens automated DC

The Toll Group has opened a new distribution centre (DC). The highly automated DC has been established to meet increasing demands for efficient e-commerce and omnichannel order fulfillment, and was fitted out by Dematic.
The DC features several Dematic systems integrated with new technologies. Dematic Multishuttles store, buffer and sequence 80,000 SKU. Workers pick orders at 24 ergonomic goods-to-person workstations. Ten AGV handle repetitive transportation tasks safely and automatically. In addition, the Toll Group worked closely with Dematic to define and implement support systems from other vendors to ensure complete integration.
As a 3PL, the Toll Group had some stringent requirements for automation. General manager of speciality retail at the Toll Group Robert Charles said: “We look at the occupation, health and safety requirements. We look at order accuracy to prevent returns coming back to the facility.
“We also look at customer service to make sure customers get their product in an efficient manner. Because it’s all about the speed to market today.”

Konica Minolta enters robotics with Mobile Industrial Robots

Martin Keetels and Thomas Visti.

Konica Minolta has formed a partnership with Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), a manufacturer of collaborative mobile robots, to bring a greater level of automation to its clients in Australia.
MiR manufactures robots that are used by companies to transport trolleys and goods in the manufacturing sector and move pallets in the distribution industry. Built-in sensors and cameras combine with technology so the mobile robot can collaborate safely with humans. No cages or designated human or robot areas are required.
National manager of robotics and innovation at Konica Minolta Martin Keetels said: “Innovation and automation have a significant role to play in manufacturing and distribution environments in Australia. Konica Minolta is excited to bring another level of automation to its customers.
“Australian businesses are requiring greater efficiency to remain competitive in the region, and globally clients are beginning to demand robotic technology. Robotics will be a growth and productivity engine of Australia’s future economy. With more than 150 service engineers in-house and the equivalent number in the channel that can potentially service robots, Konica Minolta is in a unique position to prepare our clients for the workplace of the future.”
The partnership was made official on a recent visit by Martin Keetels to MiR’s headquarters in Odense, Denmark. MiR CEO Thomas Visti hosted Martin Keetels during a two-day visit to the innovative facility.
Martin Keetels said: “I was incredibly impressed by the calibre of MiR’s management team and the market-leading robots. It’s a great combination to find in a partner and we are excited by what the future holds.
“Konica Minolta is committed to continued investment in this space through partnerships and by developing internal resources to deliver the best outcomes for its customers. Konica Minolta’s role is to work with robotics companies to support their growth by harnessing its capabilities of distribution, services, and maintenance while our partners continue designing, manufacturing, and supplying the robots.
“Konica Minolta’s robotics capability is just beginning with MiR, with many opportunities to extend across different industries and applications in the future.”

Where automation is the star – from MHD magazine

Swisslog is introducing to Australasia its new CarryStar fully automated order fulfilment system, which combines automatic guided vehicles (AGV), KUKA Star Robots and the latest Swisslog SynQ software for optimum efficiency, flexibility, reliability and sustainability.
The CarryStar will be displayed for the first time at CeMAT 2018 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from July 24-26 (Stand F12), along with live demonstrations of Swisslog’s new KMP600 AGV, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, and the latest collaborative robots from its parent company, KUKA.
Swisslog and KUKA’s highly advanced technologies and automation are designed to improve efficiency and return on investment for industries such as e-commerce, retail, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, logistics, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
The scalable and modular, fully-automated CarryStar is suitable for small, mid-size and large layer and stack picking operations. With minimal fixed infrastructure required and the ability to grow as a business expands its operations, CarryStar is ideally suited to retail, FMCG and pharmaceutical companies looking for hygienic and efficient warehouse automation.
The fully automated process starts with a pallet infeed station, where KMP600 or KMP1200 mobile platforms (carry bots) receive the pallets and transport them to buffer positions or the picking area around a Star Robot.

“The highly customisable nature of the machine makes it suited to dynamic businesses, where order fulfilment needs may be constantly changing.”

These KUKA high-performance Star Robots are the workhorses of the CarryStar system, and can pick approximately 200-300 layers or stacks per hour to form mixed or rainbow pallets, depending on the requirements to fulfil the order. Once complete, Swisslog’s Carry AGV then transport pallets to the pallet wrapper where it also will be labelled, and finally to the dispatching area to be sent to the required destinations.
Productivity and sustainability can be enhanced by negative picking, which allows for the conversion of source pallets into order pallets to minimise wastage. The entire system is driven the intelligent SynQ software, which not only manages the system, but collects valuable data and uses this to recommend further efficiencies.
“The CarryStar provides an insight into the factories of the future. It’s an automated pallet-to-pallet transfer of goods system that needs minimal fixed infrastructure to operate, making it suited to companies looking for hygienic and efficient warehouse automation,” said Swisslog Australia senior consultant Paul Stringleman.
“The highly customisable nature of the machine makes it suited to dynamic businesses, where order fulfilment needs may be constantly changing. It also helps growing businesses, because modular units can be added on as the business expands,” Mr Stringleman said.
Scalable: The modular and scalable design allows for growth in line with business growth. In addition to needing only minimal fixed infrastructure, it does not require any conveyors, which adds flexibility when updating or expanding operations. CarryStar is well-suited to small, mid-size and large layer and stack picking operations.
Flexible and sustainable: CarryStar’s safe and energy-efficient design provides excellent traceability of expiry dates and batches, as pallets are scanned when they enter and leave the system. Source pallets are converted into order pallets to enhance productivity and minimise wastage.  With minimal fixed infrastructure required (i.e. it does not use conveyors), CarryStar is flexible, hygienic and cost-efficient warehouse automation.
Efficiency: Both quality and quantity are increased with the CarryStar, as one robot can palletise approximately 200-300 layers or stacks every hour, with error-free operation.
Reliability: Fully controlled by SynQ software, CarryStar reduces picking errors. The high redundancy of the Carry AGVs’ performance allows the process to be managed effectively at any time.

“SynQ manages CarryStar to create an intuitive, efficient, data-driven and error-free operation.”

Carry AGV: An innovative and automated picking system designed to efficiently move the pallets around the CarryStar. These mobile vehicles combine Swisslog and KUKA’s extensive experience (KMP600 and KMP1200) in automation systems, hardware and software intelligence. The vehicles navigate using a grid of QR codes to deliver stacks to the Star Robots through the infeed, move the pallets around the robots, and to buffer positions, and subsequently deliver the racks to the outfeed for shipment. These AGVs are intuitive and safe, simultaneously reduce picking error rates and maintaining efficiency.
Star Robot: These are chosen based on SKU, volume and the type of picking that will be completed (crate stack, carton and tray layer or mixed SKU stack picking). These six-axis robots are available in different payload capacities to suit different warehouses and stock picking needs.

SynQ software: The machines are managed by Swisslog’s intelligent management software, SynQ. In addition to the core processes that are used to manage the AGV, SynQ also provides access to analytical tools. These tools evaluate and make smart decisions in a warehouse, based on gathered data. SynQ manages CarryStar to create an intuitive, efficient, data-driven and error-free operation. SynQ also manages energy-efficiency levels by using un-sequenced order data by SKU and pallet, manually re-sequencing this data for CarryStar by SKU and order pallet to result in minimal product pallet movements that are communicated to the Star Robots.
The CarryStar process

  1. Goods arrive in homogenous pallets.
  2. Pallets are automatically stored in the pallet storage area.
  3. The pallets move through an infeed into the CarryStar solution area.
  4. Once inside, the Carry AGVs move the pallets around the robots and/or to buffer positions depending on where they are required to be positioned.
  5. If in the buffer position they remain there until required and if so the Carry AGVs move the pallets to the correct position.
  6. Alternatively, the pallet is positioned around the Star Robot, where pallets are picked (crate stack, carton and/or tray layer).
  7. The Star Robot layer or stack picks the pallets depending on whether a single SKU, mixed or rainbow pallet is required.
  8. Once pallets are complete, the Carry AGV’s move the pallets to the pallet wrapper, whereby the order pallets are labelled before they leave the CarryStar area via the outfeed station to the dispatch/shipping area, then loaded securely on a wrapping machine and wrapped efficiently. Carry AGVs then move the secured pallets to the pallet labeller where they are labelled using SynQ’s intelligent software.
  9. Once complete, the Carry AGVs move the pallets to the outfeed where they are ready for dispatch.

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