In 2011, Antalis AG had to automate their warehouse to utilize the space better while allowing for future expansion. AutoStore™ provided the solution.
Based in Lupfig, Switzerland, Antalis AG is Europe’s leading merchant of modern communications media and consumables. Thanks to AutoStore, empowered by Swisslog, they’re now more efficient than ever.
In its present form, the company came into existence in the year 2000 as a result of the mergers of about 40 international distribution companies. Antalis AG is a distributor of paper, office supplies, promotional gifts, packaging materials, hygiene products, and products for visual communication. It also offers its clients customized logistics solutions.
The Antalis AG warehouse in Lupfig is a building of 40,000 square meters (430,000 square feet), from where a vast array of products are stored, processed, and shipped. Critical to the success of this company are accuracy, reliability, and responsiveness to customer demands.
When Antalis AG wanted to permanently expand its logistics services from this warehouse to keep pace with planned growth and market changes, they decided to install the AutoStore warehouse automation system. Swisslog helped to optimize the system to meet the requirements, providing software support and assuming project-management duties.
Antalis AG had three system requirements: space optimization, no interruptions in operations, and flexibility for expansion.
“Above all, we needed a logistics technology that made optimal use of our existing space without interrupting ongoing operations, and that offered complete flexibility in terms of future expansion,” says Jürg Frefel, Supply Chain Director of Antalis AG.
In 2011, the company installed the AutoStore system after an implementation period of about eight months. The actual installation took three weeks, and right throughout this time, the center was in full operation.
“The system was installed right on schedule, and meets all of our requirements.”
Thirteen automated guided vehicles and 10 stacker cranes transport goods from the existing high bay warehouse, which houses 55,000 Euro Pallet locations and 20,000 shelving locations, straight to the AutoStore system.
The products are stored in Bins, which are stacked on top of each other in an aluminum grid. Inside this grid, which is 400 square meters (4,305 square feet) in size, are 18,000 Bins. Each has a storage capacity of 75 litres (20 gallons) and a maximum storage weight of 30kg (66 pounds).
Ten robots glide over the top of this grid at a speed of about 3m (9.8 feet) per second, and use long grippers to pull up the requested Bins from below at a speed of 1.6m (5.3 feet) per second. The Robots use a wireless LAN (local area network) to communicate with each other and the control system.
If digging is required to reach a Bin, the system places Bins containing goods not required for that particular order in open cells nearby. Once the Robot has retrieved the right Bin, another Robot will move the displaced bins back to their original locations on the grid. The system can handle 230 Bin presentations in an hour.
There are four Workstations where employees process customers’ orders.
“Antalis AG required a space-saving, dynamic, and flexible solution,” says Daniel Hauser, Managing Director: Austria and Switzerland of Swisslog AG. “The scalable AutoStore storage and picking system ticked all of the boxes.”
The system’s benefits include:
When it comes to flexibility, the system also delivers – the team can add more Robots at any time. Furthermore, should a Robot need to be taken off the system for maintenance, another one can take over its function without any interruptions.
The system also supports Antalis AG’s customer-centered approach. It gives customers direct access to the system, allowing them to trigger order picking. This feature makes same-day or next-day delivery a reality for the company’s thousands of customers.
“AutoStore has minimized picking errors, decreased product losses, and increased the efficiency of our receiving, packaging, condensing, and shipping preparation workflows. It has also reduced the number of forklifts and other material-handling devices in operation on the warehouse floor,” Frefel reports.
The system also allows for future expansion – another significant benefit. Frefel concludes: “Instead of overinvesting at the time of project launch, we designed our small parts storage to meet only the requirements which we currently foresee. As we add new customers, which we’re already doing, thanks in part to AutoStore, we can expand the system to meet increasing logistics requirements.”
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.