CHEP Opens Automated Service Center Near Hamburg

· Increased productivity through pioneering technologies in robotics
· Customers get a look behind the scenes at the opening event

CHEP automated inspection

Cologne, September 25, 2018 – As a milestone of CHEP Germany, the Neu Wulmstorf Service Center, located in the Hamburg metropolitan region, is opening its fully automated operation. CHEP, the market leader in pallet pooling, invested more than € 1.1 million in the automation of pallet inspection and pallet repair to increase the efficiency of its service center. At a local opening event, customers were able to gain an impression of the implementation of Industry 4.0 and the resulting process optimization. Overall, productivity in the area of ​​pallet inspection is expected to increase fourfold.

State-of-the-art technology at the Neu Wulmstorf location

With a daily turnover of approx. 30,000 CHEP Euro, half and quarter pallets, the Neu Wulmstorf Service Center  is pivotal in the metropolitan region of Hamburg. More than 2 million pallets are inspected annually, repaired if necessary and provided according to the “Share and Reuse” principle for the next delivery cycle. The destination of the various pallets are the retail trade and the production companies for consumer goods and fresh goods.

With the fully automated operation, CHEP makes the service center future-proof and at the same time economically strengthens the region. By optimizing the process, the pooling expert ensures consistently high pallet quality and wants to increase its productivity fourfold during the inspection process. And not without reason: Since 2016, CHEP has been recording a growing demand for blue pallets at the Neu Wulmstorf site. By mid-2019, it is expected that the current daily throughput of 30,000 pallets is expected to almost double. With the help of automation, euro, half and quarter pallets can be handled more effectively and in higher quantities than before.

In the routine inspection of pallets for defects or damage, CHEP can now flexibly change between the different types of load carriers thanks to automation. For the service center employees, the new work environment means more safety and comfort as robotic units take over work such as repairing defective pallets.

Transitioning with Automation to Industry 4.0

Specifically, the newly installed automated plant in Neu Wulmstorf includes the following technology:

Multi-functional fully automatic inspection and repair system for automatic destacking, transport, turning and stacking of pallets at a throughput of 600 pallets per hour

  • A new laser system (Automatic Digital Inspection, ADI) that inspects individual pallets for damage and, if necessary, sends them for repair
  • Automatic painting and stencil processes using brush painting booths and inkjet systems
  • New roll nailer technology that ensures no nails stick out over the top of the pallets
  • A moisture meter that monitors the moisture content of the pallets and probes the top deck and bottom of the pallets. If the moisture content exceeds a certain value, the pallet is sorted out of production
  • A robot that enables stacking of pallets and sorting of batches according to production needs
  • Automated buffering to manage tips of damaged pallets

CHEP Germany automation

“With the automation of the service center, CHEP is optimally equipped for the future: Thanks to the faster throughput of pallet inspection and repair, we can respond even more effectively to economic upturns and ensure a regulated pallet supply for our customers. The new technology gives us a very high level of flexibility, which ultimately benefits the customer, “reports Kai Derda, Managing Director of CHEP Deutschland GmbH.

“The combination of state-of-the-art plant technology with many years of know-how and comprehensive supply chain services makes CHEP the partner of choice for our supply chain now and in the future,” adds Heiko Reese, Head of Plant Logistics at Eckes-Granini Deutschland GmbH.

The automation of the Neu Wulmstorf service center marks the start of the implementation of state-of-the-art technology in all existing CHEP service centers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland under the banner of Industry 4.0.