Increasing productivity plays an essential role in goods transport for companies. A conversation with Jörg Mandelatz, Managing Director at Interroll Fördertechnik GmbH in Wermelskirchen, and the person responsible for distribution in central Europe using automated dispatch systems and flexible commissioning.
The wider public considers warehousing an economic field that is only subject to slow changes. Is this impression correct?
No. When you say "warehousing" anyone who thinks of a large hall with a few forklifts and shelves has overlooked the technological advancements of the last 30 years. In the age of worldwide goods flows, just-in-time production and booming e-commerce, ensuring that material flows run smoothly became critical to most businesses long ago. Modern warehouses today have become sophisticated high-tech installations. The increase in productivity, and therefore higher efficiency, is pivotal here.
Efficient dispatch system and optimal use of goods issue areas
Which current trends are you concerned with as a manufacturer of conveyor technology?
Of course, there are many new themes that we engage with and discuss with our customers. This does not just include developments in Industry 4.0 or the continued development of drive technology. When we talk about warehousing, particularly important ideas include the optimal use of goods issue areas and the process reliability of the dispatch system. Automation and flexibility also play a central role. Intelligent solutions in these areas bring immediate significant benefits to the users.
How can the dispatch system be made more efficient in large distribution centers?
In many cases, the palletized goods to be transported in the next truck are still being put down by the exit ramp by forklifts, to be loaded later on. This process requires a lot of manual work steps—this involves a lot of industrial vehicle traffic between the central pallet warehouse and the goods issue area. This wastes valuable space and affects work safety. To eliminate these disadvantages, discerning warehouse operators now turn to conveyor solutions from Interroll. Dynamic conveyor lines, or "pallet channels," are filled from the central buffer stock according to demand by automatic control units. The pallets "flow" along these channels towards the goods issue area where they only have to be taken and loaded into the correct vehicle. What's more, this works regardless of whether the pallets are meant to be loaded into the truck in a longitudinal or transverse direction.
Dynamic flow storage technology as heart of distribution centers
What kind of technology is implemented for this transport process?
We use our flow storage technology, which has been tried and tested over many years as the heart of distribution centers all over the world. This dynamic warehouse solution is ideal for use in various automation environments, such as with stacking systems, transfer trolleys or electric monorail conveyors. The technology is based on the principle of gravity: Pallets or packages are stored in flow channels made of a row of consecutively arranged roller conveyor modules. Since these are installed at a 4 percent incline, goods move automatically from the intake to the output point due to the effect of gravity. Tried and tested components such as a separator and a Magnetic Speed Controller further ensure the safe removal of pallets and also limit the pallet's throughput speed. This is essential for treating goods with care and work safety, for example.
What trends do you see in commissioning?
In this sector, customers are most interested in solutions that offer the user optimum safety and flexibility. If the individual shipments are made up of pallets, such as in the drinks industry, it is crucial that the pallets flow to the commissioning area in a controlled manner and without accumulation pressure. For this purpose, integrated speed controllers and separators are installed in the flow channel to optimise work safety. Should the shipments be composed of lighter boxes, then the flexibility of their provision at the commissioning point will play a deciding role. In this case, our Versi Flow solution, which allows boxes and bags of different widths to flow via the same module, helps our users. In this case, it also does not matter if the goods carriers have an arched or damp underside.