Häfele, the UK’s largest supplier of furniture fittings and architectural hardware, has continued the automation of materials handling systems at its national distribution centre in Rugby, Warwickshire, with the installation of two additional automated high-bay cranes linked to heavy-duty pallet conveyors.
The project, which was managed by Jungheinrich, has enabled the company to increase the speed, efficiency and productivity in the warehouse, while reducing costs and the amount of manual handling. Increased automation is seen by Häfele as the key to achieving a faster response to orders while maintaining stock levels within existing buildings.
The cranes are used to pick whole pallets or individual items from the bulk storage area in the warehouse and to replenish with full pallets of stock as it is used. They are linked to the goods-in and despatch areas by high-capacity Gebhardt conveyors supplied by European Conveyor Systems.
The conveyor system is on two levels, the lower level taking full palletised loads to the cranes from goods-in, while the upper level delivers pallets with picked orders to the despatch area. It has been designed to cater for a variety of pallets, including Euro and Chep types, with gross weights of 1000kg each and includes a combination of powered chain conveyors, powered roller conveyors, zero-line-pressure accumulation conveyors and automatic lowerators.
Custom-built equipment to meet Häfele’s requirements includes double-width powered-roller transfer tables for feeding pallets to the cranes and roller transfers in the P and D area that ensure accurate positioning of pallets for crane collection. In the despatch area the conveyors decline to ground level for easy take-off by hand pallet trucks.
The conveyor system and cranes are all integrated and controlled by a central computer systems.
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