GTP: Ergonomic, cost-efficient, store-friendly
Picking and consolidating items across all product ranges in the logistics centers of food retailers that cannot be automated is not an easy task, both in terms of process technology and ergonomics. In most cases, these products are picked separately in different areas using conventional picking methods. With the OPM / COM solution, WITRON has already succeeded in stacking the very largest part from the dry, fresh, and frozen goods range fully automatically, error-free, and store-friendly onto pallets or roll containers. With the full integration of the newly developed Goods-To-Person solution (GTP) into the overall OPM concept, it is now possible to pick and consolidate these items in an ergonomic, cost-efficient, and store-friendly manner directly onto the pallets / roll containers that were already pre-picked in the OPM.
High store service and important recruiting criterion
Particularly in the fresh and frozen food area, but also in the dry goods range, customers like to use this solution because of the selected number of items that cannot be handled fully automatically - and not only with a focus on high customer and store service. With an increasing shortage of skilled workers in the logistics environment in particular, trendsetting workstations are another important recruiting criterion for presenting oneself as an attractive employer and thus generating sustainable competitive advantages - economically, ecologically, and socially.
Intelligent workstation for products, which are difficult to automate
To date, more than 95 percent of the complete product range in food retailing can be efficiently stored and picked with WITRON’s fully automated OPM / COM solution. The only exceptions here are a small number of products such as very heavy items, items with oversize, or items that are not suitable due to their characteristics.
Previously, when such “ugly” items were included in a supermarket’s store order, they were picked manually in a conventional warehouse area, usually with the help of pick mobiles. For this purpose, all cases that could be picked by the OPM system were first placed fully automatically onto a pallet / roll container. The load carrier was then transported via a conveyor system to the conventional warehouse area, where an operator consolidated the outstanding items onto the load carrier. The result was mostly long driving distances to often pick only a small number of items in a complex manner.
Picking and consolidation of these “difficult” items now takes place - completely system-controlled and fully integrated into the OPM material flow process - at a semi-automated stationary GTP workstation. Depending on customer demands and configuration, cases can be picked either from an OPM tray or a storage pallet onto store pallets / roll containers. The solution can be used in temperature-controlled areas as well as in dry assortments and generates many benefits throughout the logistics process.
Economical, ecological, social
- Based on an intelligent stacking algorithm, the cases are provided either on storage pallets or OPM trays system-controlled via a conveyor system at the GTP workstation. Order-related requirements, such as consolidation by product group, can thus be met more easily.
- Picking errors are largely eliminated by using the latest visualization tools and by sequencing the provision of storage and dispatch units. The system specifies the picks to be made in the correct sequence.
- Depending on the GTP type, the walking distances for employees at the GTP workstation are completely eliminated or reduced to a minimum. Unergonomic lifting and carrying are also reduced.
- If cases are provided on trays in temperature-controlled areas (fresh / frozen), the GTP workstation can even be situated in a warmer working environment, as the cold chain is not interrupted due to the short provision time.
- The CO² footprint is improved because a wide range of product parameters (size, weight, handling, stability) can be combined when building a customer pallet / roll container, which also significantly reduces the number of load carriers that are not optimally filled during transportation.
- Furthermore, the solution ensures space savings in the warehouse, since products outside the “standard parameters” that cannot be processed automatically, do not have to be permanently staged in separate pick aisles or logistics areas, but remain in the high bay warehouse / tray warehouse until they are needed.
- Time-consuming forklift tours with long driving distances and relatively few pick processes are eliminated.
Full integration into a flexible overall process
In terms of its basic principle, the GTP workstation is always structured in the same way. Both the dispatch units (full pallet, display pallet, roll container) as well as the stored items required for picking / consolidation are served ergonomically and in the correct sequence utilizing a conveyor system. The provision of stored items can, however, be managed flexibly according to customer requirements - depending on the number of products or throughput on pallets or trays.
For example, the static provision of individual fast movers on pallets allows a reduction in the replenishment quantity and thus the traffic on the conveyor system, which results in an investment saving.
Slow movers, on the other hand, are supplied through trays. This enables a highly dynamic supply of the respective item at the workstation.
- A light pointer / graphical visualization tool shows the operator where to exactly place the storage unit on the dispatch unit. The result is an optimal stacking pattern - exactly created according to the individual requirements of the respective customer order.
- Due to the resulting 1:1 order picking, error-free, store-friendly (or product group-friendly) picking / consolidation is guaranteed.
- A pick container provides optimal stacking stability for the order pallet. In the case of a roll container, this is ensured by a rear wall that is automatically applied during the picking process.
- Once the picking order has been completed, the dispatch unit is transported via the conveyor system to an automatic stretch-wrapper and finally reaches the shipping area / automatic dispatch puffer also via the same transport method.
- Empty trays or empty pallets are automatically stacked and removed via the conveyor system.
Due to the attractiveness of this solution, the GTP module - fully integrated in a highly automated OPM material flow process - has already been implemented as an innovative, semi-automated workstation for customers in Europe and North America and is also a firm part of numerous logistics designs.