HammerHammer - Internationale Spedition, Transport und Logistik


Case study: Use of technology in the logistics of heterogeneous goods

Being as highly efficient as possible by at the same time being flexible – that is the challenge, which logistics service providers like Hammer have to face to an increasing degree. Efficiency, on the one hand, requires processes that proved to be good, on the other hand, the use of appropriate technology. The more standardised products are in their handling, the higher is the possible degree of automation and with that the efficiency. In contrast to homogeneous goods less automation technology can be used for heterogeneous (non-uniform) goods, as machines do not necessarily recognise, which product with specific dimensions and sensitivities tolerates which handling.

The Task

The task is the optimal utilization of packing stations for pallets with heterogeneous products in seasonal business fields. In particular seasonal business is characterized by the fact that the personnel and capacity utilization is between 0 and 100 %. In order to achieve a fast return on investment, especially at investments for the handling of heterogeneous goods, an optimal degree of automation is required.

The solution
In order to increase the automation degree as regards heterogeneous products, the search for a common denominator is of initial importance. Here the possibilities, under which properties (dimensions, weight, sensitivity) the products can be categorized, are indentified. For the product groups resulting from that, the possible technologies are selected under consideration of seasonal quantities.

Example: heterogeneous building depot materials in the logistics centre Cologne West.

In the example of heterogeneous building depot products three product groups or product classes were identified in the area of pallet wrapping:

1. highly sensitive and instable products, light-weight pallets, as well as special
     handling pallets
2. sensitive products, as well as special handling pallet
3. sensitive and insensitive products over 50kg

On the basis of focussing on automation-capable products, an analysis of quantity and seasonal conditions as well as calculation of return of investment based on that respective pallet wrapping technology has been provided for these three groups:

I. winding disk systems

II. Semi-automatic winding disk systems (rotary disk or satellite method
     (shrinking or wrapping method)

III. Fully automatic wrapping system (shrinking or wrapping method)

After categorization of the products and focussing on sensitive and insensitive products, over 50 % (III\3) automation could be determined for product group 3 in the following areas:

• feeding
• dimensions
• weight
• labels

A particular challenge in the field of automation: “labelling”. Especially for heterogeneous goods a suitable label technology is to be found, which in combination with control and conveyor technology guarantees efficient, trouble-free labelling. Here a label technology has proved, which by a sensor, installed at the head of the labeller, detects, whether the label arm has sufficient room to apply the label.

What is the benefit?
By the automation of measurement and weighing of a pallet, automatic cover sheet feeding, automatic labelling on two sides of a pallet, on average 55 pallets with a height of 160 cm (max. 210 cm) are wrapped on the system per hour by two persons.

Faster ROI: owing to the higher throughput at reduced employment of staff, as well as clearly lower foil consumption, the system paid for itself in less than one year.