Herma GmbH, one of the world’s leading suppliers of adhesive labels, is realising productivity and quality improvements across its production logistics department using a real-time location system (RTLS) delivered by Ubisense.
Herma was founded in 1906 and is located in Filderstadt, Germany (near Stuttgart). Each day the company sends out around 550 pallets of coated paper, film and labels to customers around the world – a process that presents a number of significant production and logistical challenges. To optimise its storage and transportation processes, Herma has introduced Ubisense’s high precision RTLS technology integrated with SAP.
Every minute counts when customers are waiting to receive a shipment, especially when their production process is dependent upon just-in-time delivery. Herma dispatches product from a central logistics warehouse, which is constantly fed with pre-configured pallets from several production lines. The operation is complex and very dynamic. With limited space and numerous pallets that all look visually very similar, everything has to run like clockwork. This is where the Ubisense precise RTLS comes into play.
Ubisense’s RTLS combines ultra-wideband radio technology with a real-time software platform to create a high performance location system that can function inside buildings. At Herma, Ubisense has constructed a network of sensors around the logistics area, which receives real-time location signals transmitted at frequencies of between 6 and 8.5 GHz from battery-operated tags. The location of the tags is determined to an accuracy of 30cm with 100% reliability.
Because tracking individual pallets at Herma proved impractical, Ubisense has fitted tags to the forklift trucks that transport goods from the production department to the shipment area and onto lorries. The pallets are scanned and the exact set-down location in the logistics area is recorded by Ubisense software, which combines the position with the pallet identification number using middleware running under SAP. Forklift operators use a small terminal mounted in their vehicle to view the exact position ofpallets and retrieve them for shipment. With the forklifts under continuoussurveillance, errors and mix-ups are effectively eliminated. The system caneven detect when a forklift is about to pick up the incorrect pallet and alerts the driver. Shipment docks are also monitored and a warning given if a pallet is driven onto an incorrect lorry.
The investment has paid for itself according to Frank Baude, Head of Customs and Logistics at Herma: "The Ubisense system has enabled us to cope with an increase in shipments using our existing capacity and has helped us to work far more efficiently. The time required to find goods has decreased and there are practically no delivery errors – saving us money and improving our customer satisfaction levels. You can’t expect more than that!"