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Maximum pick performance with minimum use of mechanics

Full totes / standard cartons, and special sizes: WITRON solution “Optimal Fresh Picking (OFP)” combines case picking and piece picking in the fresh food area

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Photo: Witron

Fruits and vegetables are healthy and people are eating even more consciously. Due to continuously increasing demands, the selection at the deli counter in supermarkets and convenience stores grows larger and larger. The first bite is with the eye - product quality is of extraordinary high importance. Obviously, no other product segment challenges the logistics experts as much these days. Requirements with regard to product sensibility and ergonomics can be resolved with automated systems. However, this is quite difficult to handle in a cost-efficient manner as small article ranges require a high pick performance. The solution is a new system from WITRON. With the OFP (Optimal Fresh Picking), the general contractor has applied for a patent that combines all scenarios in one system: The store-friendly picking of full totes and cartons as well as the piece picking from totes and cartons is done within one automated system: cost-efficient, flexible, with short throughput times, ergonomic, space-saving, and compact - with a balanced use of conveyor technology. The customer starts with a basic version that can be expanded due to the scalability of the innovative system. Additional modules can be integrated into the overall concept without any problem.  

The special feature: Movements within the system are reduced to a minimum. Storage and replenishment components are product-gentle using Dynamic Mini Loads (DML) - small, energy-efficient stacker cranes with double load handling device. Two DMLs per aisle guarantee redundancy within the modules and ensure constant replenishment for order picking.  Replenishment is done on individual pick levels. The products on each level are staged in a pick front.  Six-fold-deep (or twelve-fold deep in case of half totes), single-item flow channels along the tote aisle allow an intelligent replenishment: on the one hand through short distances from the storage shelf to the flow channel - without additional conveyor system connections - and on the other hand thanks to the continuous replenishment of several totes per crane movement.  All pick levels work completely independent from each other, which means that several orders from different stores can be processed in parallel with a short throughput time.  

Full totes: Fully automated order picking by means of a shuttle

One store order is completed on every pick level. Full totes and cartons of different sizes are removed directly from the pick front by means of a pick shuttles and placed onto a discharge conveyor.  The provision of the items in the modules is done according to the store layout to allow shortest driving distances of the shuttle.  As in the case of the replenishment by means of the DML, the long driving distances for shuttles - for example to the end of the aisle - are no longer required - and thus allowing maximum outbound performances.  The outbound lane transports the load carriers directly to the automated stacker cranes, where they are stacked onto pallets or roll containers without being buffered. 

Perfect symbiosis: Person and machine in one system

Piece picking is done in a pick aisle with automated replenishment. Several pickers work in one aisle - guided by a pick guiding system that ensures maximum pick quality. Walking distances are reduced considerably. All pickers work on the same store order and pick fruits and vegetables from totes and cartons directly into the order totes. Every customer order is completed in one aisle. The order assignment of the next tote to be picked is steered by computers, which account for the pick performances of each individual picker.  

Once the store totes are filled optimally based on a volume calculation, they are supplied to the automated stackers via an outbound lane and stacked for transportation together with the previous full totes or cartons.  

All components directly from WITRON

All IT, mechanical, and steel components of the OFP system have been developed and designed by WITRON. When it comes to the implementation, WITRON’s customers benefit from a great amount of successfully designed and realized logistics projects in the food retail sector.   

WITRON 4.0 software suite: 
Integrated communication between products, machines, people, and systems

An end-to-end networking is ensured through the WITRON 4.0 software suite. If an OFP distribution center connects all products, areas, and elements - from receiving to dispatch - in a logical and IT-supported manner, it allows a real-time optimized order processing that runs largely without staff intervention. If master data, departure times, store layouts, machine, or frame conditions change, order processing or prioritization will also change in a flexible and automatic manner, and in real-time. The core of the idea is that on the one hand all units and/or parties involved in the system (as for example machines, SKUs, stores, tours) are directly linked with one another, communicate with one another, and on the other hand that dynamic changes flow into the process in a decentralized manner and in real-time. 

New system convinces with numerous benefits

Simple, clearly structured processes, the optimal interaction between people and machine, as well as a scalable overall concept ensure a highly effective pick performance, short throughput times, and maximum flexibility. Full totes or cartons, cases, as well as single items are picked in a store-friendly manner through one integrated system. A balanced use of mechanical elements creates the best possible ergonomic work environment for logistics processes in temperature-controlled areas. The use of multiple load handling devices applied at the used shuttles - two devices per aisle as well as a multiple staging of all products - ensure a high product and system availability and shortest driving distances at the same time. The separation of the system into modules, arranged in the X- and Y-axis, allows a compact design. An additional Order Consolidation Buffer is not required and further increases the cost-efficiency of the solution. A redundant design throughout the layout as well as a linked material flow between the individual modules ensures maximum stability. Factors that the market demands from a state-of-the-art logistics system.