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Steel supplier installs flexible sawing and storage system

To help meet the challenges of high daily throughput combined with a need to respond quickly and flexibly to special demands from customers, Swiss steel specialist, Carl Spaeter, has installed at its centre in Basle a KASTO sawing and storage system with integrated logistics and IT (information technology).

The Spaeter group, with nine subsidiaries and 800 employees, is a leading partner to the Swiss construction sector, supplying steel, non-ferrous metals and other building materials. Much of it requires sawing followed by deburring, chamfering, plasma cutting, folding, finishing and prefabrication. More than 160,000 tons of steel alone are processed, prepared and shipped annually to construction sites throughout Switzerland.

With business growing and increasing in complexity, the company wanted to upgrade its operation by investing in a new logistics system. One potential supplier, KASTO Maschinenbau in southern Germany (whose UK subsidiary is in Milton Keynes), was chosen to manufacture and supply the system. It looks after Carl Spaeter’s operations from receipt of order to shipment by truck and is described as fully-developed and future-proof, with technologically-advanced storage backed by intelligent information processing.

At the Basle distribution centre, KASTO built a Unicompact 3.0 honeycomb storage system almost 65 metres long, 12.6 metres high and with 3,139 storage locations. The 600 mm wide by 350 mm high cassettes store many different materials up to 7 metres long, maximum load per cassette being three tonnes.

The gantry crane has two cassette locations, enabling KASTO’s time-saving random access principle of storage and retrieval. Advanced drive technology together with the manufacturer’s system software allow function- and time-optimised crane travel at longitudinal speeds up to 160 m/min.

Three bandsaws and three circular saws are integrated to cut material to length for fulfilling customer orders. Single bars are delivered by the crane to separate longitudinal buffer stations next to the machines. Cutting orders are sent to each saw automatically from Carl Spaeter’s SAP system via a KASTOlvr inventory control computer and are displayed at the appropriate work stations.

Each saw has its own material memory which selects the optimum cutting parameters for each saw order, according to type and size of material. Using KASTO software tools, cutting times are precalculated and the output capacity of the individual saws is displayed on the storage system control panel. This allows allocation of orders to the different saws to optimise their utilisation. Additionally, the software suggests to which output stations the cut material should be delivered for maximum operator efficiency when handling orders.

Two rotary stations with three or four buffer locations ensure that orders are processed as quickly as possible. Surface-sensitive materials like stainless steels are packed separately at a wrapping machine. The KASTOlvr automatically allocates each order to the most sensible rotary station for commissioning, depending on different parameters.

To achieve fast and efficient bar removal, each station is equipped with a KSG commissioning unit on which a rigid traverse guide prevents the material swinging, as with magnet or sling removal. The commissioning process finishes with labelling the orders before moving the material to the dispatch area.

Rapid cutting and commissioning are useless if the material does not reach the customer on time. To speed transfer of the commissioned order to the correct truck, KASTO developed a system for transporting the material automatically to 12 different truck locations. Distribution takes place via a monorail at the front of the building. A load weight of up to two tonnes and a maximum speed of 160 m/min allow fast, operator-free operation.

The customer’s SAP system gives the relevant information on truck position to the KASTOlvr, which chooses the best commissioning station to optimise material flow via the monorail. An intelligent interface is thus provided between digital preplanning and mechanical execution.

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