SKF automates factory with Egemin automated storage system |

SKF automates factory with Egemin automated storage system

SKF automates factory with Egemin automated storage system

August 25, 2016 - Swedish multinational SKF is a sizable manufacturer of bearings. The company recently automated the logistics process for its “lightweight / low-value” products in its European distribution centre (EDC) in Tongeren (East of Brussels). SKF worked with Egemin, to install a miniload AS/RS storage system in the EDC’s new warehouse. With the new system, SKF can organize the logistics of its bearings, lubricants and seal products more efficiently and economically. The new automation also has SKF now ready for future growth and e-commerce. The completed installation went into operation earlier this year.

In response to SKF's request, Egemin proposed some possible concepts. “Initially, the intention was to bring everything under the existing warehouse,” says Eric Coenen, Sales Manager at Egemin. “However, the warehouse was limited in terms of area and height. After an in-depth study, SKF decided that a new warehouse with a miniload AS/RS system would suit the planned logistics changes.”

The new warehouse is entirely geared towards growth. “The new building is suitable for five miniload cranes. There are currently four of these installed, so there is room for expansion,” explains Coenen. “The trays are suitable for a weight of up to 50 kg. The warehouse installation is actually designed for more heavy-duty use than was needed in principle. This way, SKF will be able to handle other, heavier products using the miniload system in the future. Lastly, the new concept allows for very quick delivery.”

SKF's specification clearly outlined the concept and the required capacities. For example, a throughput capacity of 400 picks per hour was needed at the picking stations.

To meet SKF’s requirements, Egemin also used its expertise to implement a few modifications. “The warehouse management software (WMS) is always crucial for the performance of a system because it controls the machines that perform the actions,” says Coenen. “To control the automated miniload system we used our E’wcs warehouse control software - part of our standard E’wms warehouse management software. In tight collaboration with SKF’s default WMS vendor, Consafe Logistics, we then developed the required software interface between our E’wcs and Astro WMS. Stock management continues to operate within the current WMS and is integrated to the Egemin WCS. Finally, we also made some layout-related adjustments to the conveyor system in the front area where loading and unloading of the products take place.”

The installation of the SKF miniload system was a challenging project for Egemin in various ways. “We had already implemented a very successful modernization project with SKF for the high-bay warehouse,” says Eric Coenen. “That immediately set the bar very high for our project team. By default, SKF works with preferred suppliers for all its locations worldwide. This is the first project to take place in this form within the SKF Group, but everything went well. We look forward to further automation for other sites," concludes Coenen.

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