Based in Bremen, AMCO Metall Service stocks 7,000 tonnes of aluminium, copper, brass and bronze in its 55,000 square metre facility and delivers 25,000 tonnes annually to customers mainly in the plant building, metal processing, construction, transportation and shipbuilding sectors. The German family firm has 270 employees and an annual turnover of around €100 million.
Increasing demand for cut-to-size material meant that the company’s service centre for semi-finished materials was running out of space. So to streamline efficiency for holding and picking material including billets and plate, the company installed a Unigrip 3.0 automated, honeycomb-type cassette storage system. It was built by KASTO, located some 600 kilometres further south in Achern. Since then, AMCO has enjoyed fast access to its materials, machined parts and remnants and has consequently increased its pre-machining and order picking productivity.
Jan Hendrik Schmidt, managing director of AMCO said, “Growth in this area of our business presented us with a challenge. We needed additional storage space to expand and also wanted to renew our conventional racking system.
“The new solution had to ensure high availability of metals and make efficient use of the available space. Sawing to length, 3- to 5-axis prismatic machining and picking also had to be interlinked with the system.
“To increase profitability, we were keen to avoid damage to material caused by handling and storage and we also wanted to reduce order picking costs.”
KASTO was already a supplier to AMCO, having manufactured and delivered in 2013 a Unicompact 3.0 long goods storage system that has proved successful in operation.
Mr Schmidt explained, “KASTO had particular advantages, notably the impressive degree of added value they offered compared to competitors, ranging from software development to the supply of spares.
“Existing, proven interfaces ensured simple integration into our ERP system and KASTO’s employees gave us competent advice before we placed the order.”
The Unigrip 3.0 industrial store in Bremen has 1,365 storage locations and is 68 metres long, over 21 metres wide and 6.7 metres in height. Five types of cassette from 6.5 to 6.7 metres long and 1.6 metres wide hold the stockholder’s materials, maximum load per cassette being three tonnes. The storage and retrieval machine (SRM) travels longitudinally at up to 120 metres per minute to ensure efficient material movement. Laser measuring ensures precise positioning and contour controls monitor that goods do not overhang and hinder their transfer.
Via a standard Profibus DP fieldbus, the proprietary KASTOlogic control orchestrates all functions including drive controllers, manual control units and weighing electronics. AMCO can create or change data quickly and receives reliable information on inventories and cassette availability. Storage zones can be managed to optimise the SRM’s travel routes. Incoming orders are automatically assigned to the relevant processing stations. The Unigrip then provides stock and remnants to the machine tools and subsequently stores pre-machined parts and remnants.
To speed fault diagnosis and help with operational problems, KASTO’s service centre in Achern can access the storage system in Bremen remotely and control all functions of the KASTOlogic. Changes to the program or parameters can be carried out cost-effectively, without the need for KASTO staff to visit the site.
Mr Schmidt added, “Our investment in the KASTO solution has paid off handsomely and our goals and expectations have been fully met. The storage facility perfectly fulfils its intended functions of storing material and as a buffer for holding pre-cut and machined parts, which are logically stored and accessed quickly and reliably.”
He is also pleased with other process advantages. Damage to material during transportation and handling has been virtually eliminated and AMCO has been able to reduce significantly its fleet of forklift trucks, as the storage system delivers the required materials to where they are needed.
Mr Schmidt concluded, “Cooperation between our staff and KASTO’s employees is very positive. Technical optimisations during the running-in phase were quickly and fully completed and ongoing adjustments take place continuously and are efficiently supported by the supplier.”