Sinotrans, one of the largest logistics players in China, has asked Egemin to automate its new distribution centre in Kunshan. This investment is to make the company’s operations more efficient, significantly increase the productivity of its employees and help attract new customers. It is a major strategic project for Egemin Automation. The Chinese industry is experiencing a real wave of automation and this installation is therefore an important reference project for Egemin. The automated transport system should be fully operational by China’s National Day, celebrated on October 1.
Important growth market
"In China, industry 4.0 is all about automation and efficiency. One can call it the Chinese version of lean and mean,” says Dirk Dewulf, general manager of Egemin China and Egemin Asia Pacific. New factories and distribution centres are organised and equipped differently than a few years ago.
"The strong stimulus from the Chinese government, the ever rising labour costs and increasing demands in terms of safety and traceability are forcing companies to think carefully about their intralogistics model," Dirk Dewulf continues. Doing more of the same will not work anymore. China is, therefore, an important growth market for Egemin and its automation systems (AGVs and E’tow®)."
Sinotrans too wants to be the trendsetter on China’s logistics market. Their new site in Kunshan, 70 kilometres away from Shanghai, will, therefore, be equipped with Egemin’s E’tow® system. E’tow® is an automatically-controlled in-floor chain conveyor system that provides the transport and sorting of goods.
Efficient and automatic
There are many large supermarket chains among Sinotrans’ customers. The products from their suppliers arrive at Sinotrans, where they are received, distributed and then sent to various shops. The entire process is divided into two flows: One for the incoming products from the suppliers and one for the pallets with consolidated products.
"The goods enter through our in-floor chain conveyor system, where they are scanned and checked for quality," says Dewulf. "This information is entered into our computer program so that the system and the employees will know where the pallet should go. The system also knows which outgoing goods are destined for which shop. Operators pick the goods using a hand pallet truck and put them on the main loop when the transport for each particular shop is being prepared."
Complete overview and control
The entire process is controlled by software. The E’tis® software, Egemin’s dedicated software platform for E’tow® systems, allows users to pull reports to see which goods are destined for which destination and track the status of the system and all the components. When goods leave the warehouse, they pass through an integrated weighing system. The E’tis® software records the weight and enters it into Sinotrans’ WMS database. That way, one can see the weight that went to the shops and compare it with the incoming weight.
Egemin as a reliable partner
Sinotrans chose Egemin after careful consideration. The client paid a visit to France, Germany and the Netherlands twice. "They have clearly chosen for Egemin because of the reliability of our transport solutions and the solid experience and hands-on expertise of our employees," says Dirk Dewulf. "During close consultations with the client, we explained all the details of the E’tow® system’s operation and the financial aspects of the investment. We look to the future with full confidence."