Expansion of the European distribution center (EDC) warehouse entirely geared towards growth
Swedish multinational SKF is one of the biggest manufacturers of bearings and related products in the world. To address growth, the company recently automated the logistics process for its “lightweight / low-value” products in its European distribution center (EDC) in Tongeren (East of Brussels). SKF worked with Egemin Automation to install a mini-load automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) system in that allows SKF to 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 designing the system for SKF, Egemin proposed some possible concepts. “Initially, the intention was to bring everything under the existing warehouse,” says Eric Coonan, Sales Manager at Egemin. “However, the warehouse was limited regarding area and height. After an in-depth study, SKF decided that a new warehouse with a mini-load AS/RS system would best suit the planned logistics changes.”
Egemin Automation manufactures, implements and services automated material handling solutions that improve warehouse, production, and distribution center processes. The company’s solutions include design, installation, modernization, and support of automated warehouse and distribution systems, including automated guided vehicles and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS).
The new warehouse is entirely geared towards growth. “The new building is designed for five mini-load cranes. There are currently four installed, so there is room for expansion,” explains Coonan. “The trays are suitable for a weight of up to 50 kg. The warehouse installation is designed for more heavy-duty use than was needed in principle. This way, SKF will be able to handle other, heavier products using the mini-load system in the future. Lastly, the new concept allows for very quick delivery.” The facility’s pick stations can handle a throughput capacity of 400 picks per hour.
Egemin completed a retrofit project with SKF in the past and was able to utilize the software expertise from that project into the expansion at the Tongeren facility. This fact played a major role in Egemin’s selection for the project. “The warehouse management software (WMS) is always crucial for the performance of a system because it controls the machines that perform the actions,” says Coonan. “SKF’s established WMS provider did not have experience in controlling automated mini-load systems and could not offer the necessary functionalities to achieve the desired capacity. The Egemin E’wcs warehouse control software – part of our standard E’wms® warehouse management software – is used to monitor the complete mini-load system. Stock management continues to operate within the current WMS and is integrated to the Egemin WCS.”
North American headquarters for Egemin are based in Holland, MI, with global headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium. Egemin Automation is part of the KION Group, a leading global intralogistics solutions provider comprising the brands of Linde, STILL, Fenwick, OM STILL, Baoli, Voltas, and Egemin Automation. The KION Group is headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, and is present in more than 100 countries, 23,500 employees, and sales of almost $5.7 billion.