Its newly expanded and modernized logistics center has allowed household goods company WENKO to dramatically accelerate its customer-order processing, increase its work-process productivity and structure its capacity for further growth. The technological basis for this trail-blazing solution is the seamless interaction between the various Interroll platform solutions.

Inventive and creative by tradition, family-run WENKO has more 1,000 registered patents and intellectual property rights. Its extensive portfolio includes about 6,000 household products for use mostly in bathroom, kitchen, laundry and living areas. The company, based in Hilden, Germany, markets its homeware items in more than 80 countries and, together with its trend scouts, inventors and designers, develops around 500 new products each year under the motto “The Better Idea.”

Efficient material handling as key success factor

WENKO relies on innovative solutions for its goods distribution in the much the same way it does for its product range. Customers in brick-and-mortar retailing, classic mail-order trade and e-commerce are supplied via the company’s modern logistics center in Baal near Düsseldorf. Following a comprehensive expansion project for the intermediate storage and picking, which was completed in just 18 months, the distribution center in Baal now has a total surface area of 32,000 square meters. The hub ensures a quick and smooth flow of merchandise to customers worldwide.

“Efficient material handling has always been one of the key factors in our successful business strategy and has become even more important with the growth of e-commerce. At the same time, the trend is toward just-in-time deliveries, increasingly customized orders and the minimization of warehousing in the retail trade,” says Philip Köllner, CEO of WENKO-WENSELAAR GmbH & Co. KG, adding that the company decided to expand its central logistics center by building an additional hall. “The aim was to modernize the intermediate storage and picking with an automated solution and to flexibly design both to cope with the challenges of the future. It was not just a question of improving efficiency and productivity; above all, it was to achieve better delivery times and services for our growing customer base.”

Trusting cooperation of everyone involved

System integrator REMA TEC GmbH from Bruchsal, Germany, was responsible for the project’s detailed planning and technical feasibility. The company has a wealth of experience in material handling solutions, having worked for 20 years for a number of well-known enterprises from a wide range of industries. It is a member of the International Rolling on Interroll competence network. “Our extensive project expertise and flexibility allow us to successfully implement demanding projects, even as a medium-sized company,” says Peter Dippel, CEO at REMA TEC. “The trusting cooperation with strong partners such as Interroll plays a key role, as they competently help us achieve our business targets.”

Unique interaction of modular platform solutions

The solution for efficient intermediate storage and picking was based technologically on Interroll’s conveying-technology platform solutions for flow storage applications for pallets and cartons, high-performance sorting with a crossbelt sorter and a large number of drum motors, belt curves and conveyor rollers. The capacity, flexibility and efficiency of the new material handling solution at WENKO are impressive. A flow storage system was set up as the intermediate storage, consisting of more than 6,600 dynamic slots for cartons and over 2,100 dynamic slots for pallets, as well as 80 returns for empty pallets.

The warehousing and picking of goods are carried out on four levels, where a total of 20 picking tunnels were installed with highly efficient pick-to-belt conveying technology. Conveyor belts with 127 integrated drum motors and 31 belt curves transport the cartons of different sizes to shipping through a high-performance sorter, which achieves a throughput of 3,000 units per hour. The shipping area has a 110 meter-long conveyor belt as a visible surface and 19 end sections, each 12.5 meters long. In addition, several gravity conveyors were fitted with the Magnetic Speed Controller MSC 50.

“In our role as an enabler for an efficient material handling, we aim to offer our customers a crucial added value for their business,” says Jörg Mandelatz, CEO at Interroll Fördertechnik GmbH. “We managed to achieve that, even in this demanding project. The unique interaction between our products and services relating to dynamic warehousing, sorting and even intelligent-drive technology not only meets the highest quality demands, but also takes future growth opportunities into account thanks to the scalability of the modular platforms.”

Modern working environment

The new solution was tested intensively before being implemented. WENKO employees in Baal were introduced to their working environment and new tasks. In addition, the system produces only low noise emissions – an aspect that Köllner is keen to emphasize. “We know that our employees are essential for our success,” he says. “That’s why we make sure that the general conditions are ideal so that they feel happy with us and can enjoy an attractive working environment.”

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