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TGW implements automated logistics solution at Kärcher parts centre

TGW has installed an automated warehouse solution for one of the world’s leading cleaning equipment manufacturers, Kärcher.

The German-based manufacturer, well known for its distinctive yellow pressure cleaners and vacuums sold 12.5 million devices in 2013. The company recently entrusted TGW with the fit out of its newly extended spare parts distribution centre in Obersontheim.

More than 60,000 spare parts and about 5,000 accessories are stored at Obersontheim with 2.8 million order lines shipped per year.

To cope with these volumes, and the short customer delivery times, Kärcher opted for an automated warehouse and picking system instead of the previous person-to-goods processes. "Our employees had to walk more than 10 km per day in order to reach the aisles and pick the goods," said Roland Fahrmeier, Vice President Logistics Management at Kärcher.

By increasing the level of automation the throughput times of the orders have been drastically reduced. Orders with only one item are now generally available within a time frame of 30 minutes.

TGW’s automated mini-load warehouse provides 85,000 storage locations for totes. Each of the eight aisles has a Mustang automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) machine that allows for single-deep storage and retrieval from the 14meter high racks.

In the picking area TGW Pick Centre workstations were implemented. On each workstation, alternating source totes are provided from where the goods are picked. The open order tote is situated in the middle and all three positions are inclined to provide ideal insight into the totes and optimum arm distances. A very quick exchange of totes has resulted in no waiting times.

TGW’s Stingray Shuttle system has also been deployed to consolidate goods from various areas of the distribution centre. The two-aisle buffer storage accommodates 5,200 totes and the 36 TGW Stingrays enable 1,800 storage and retrieval movements per hour.

"The Shuttle system allows us to retrieve the goods at the latest possible time to consolidate the goods into one package and ship it to the customer. Therefore we are able to prepare as few packages as possible for customers," adds Roland Fahrmeier.

The solution will have the capacity to accommodate future growth and Kärcher’s expanding parts range for some time. After that there is the option to duplicate the current capacities within the distribution centre’s existing footprint.

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