Using UNICOMPACT systems supplied by KASTO, West Midlands stockholder The Metal Centre has doubled hourly pick rates from 15 to 30 per hour with the same manpower, compared with when stock was handled manually using conventional racking and fork lift trucks. Chris Meredith, General Manager, says that the first system with nearly 2,000 locations installed in 2002, paid back within three years.
The second phase, completed in 2007, saw the system expanded to three independently operating UNICOMPACT stores with a total capacity of 6,000 cassettes. KASTO was able to give a system uptime guarantee of up to 98 per cent, thanks in part to a direct modem link to the manufacturer's service department, as well as in this case very good customer operatives and a management team supporting and maintaining the installation.
The doubling of pick rates at The Metal Centre was maintained during the second phase of expansion, despite store height being increased from the 2002 level of 8 metres to 14 metres. Faster gantry crane movements have compensated for the larger distances travelled: 160 m/min longitudinally, 60 m/min vertically and up to 80 m/min for cassette traverse.
Clever utilisation of space within each cassette is another key to the success of the operation. Each has useable dimensions of 330 mm high (or 550 mm high on system 3) by 610 mm wide by 7,270 mm long and is arranged internally as one of 12 types. Type 1 is unaltered; types 2 to 7 are divided into two, four or six compartments; types 8 and 9 are rubber lined to protect polished material; and type 10 is divided into nine compartments for short bar and tube. The remaining two types have fully boarded bases so that flimsy material cannot fall through the cross members which constitute the base of the other cassettes.
Within each location, care is taken to mix material types to ensure maximum utilisation of space and facilitate picking. For example, large diameter bar is combined with tube so that the maximum weight capacity of 1.5 tonnes on systems 1 and 2, or 2.5 tonnes on system 3, is not reached before the volume occupied is at a reasonable level. Additionally, it is easy to distinguish between the different stock types when picking. For the same reason, dissimilar materials are often stored in the same cassette.
Customers can be on-line with the host computer at The Metal Centre and place orders directly on the KASTOlvr system every day. All orders are stacked onto a holding screen and sequentially released to the warehouse for picking. The status of an order can be viewed at any time, giving a snapshot as to which items are still to be picked and the tonnage picked against the required total.
The computer system automatically lists the orders as they are received in the correct sequence, according to the delivery priority for each departing vehicle. For added flexibility, the team of operatives is able to reprioritise items to meet new, agreed collection or delivery deadlines.
Most picks are determined by weight using the built-in scales at each input/output station. Picked weight is logged automatically and so is that of the remaining stock in the cassette. This ensures consistent weight accuracy for the customer. After each pick, a bar code label is printed which accompanies the material to its destination.
With over 1,250 automated storage and retrieval systems for long stock and sheet in use worldwide, KASTO is the world leader in managing this first process in a manufacturing or stockholding environment. Storage systems are often linked to KASTO sawing machines, of which there are over 110,000 installed worldwide, for cutting to length prior to further processing throughout manufacturing industry.