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Innovative solutions for special mobile applications

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Data communication: fast, flexible and secure

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VAHLE puts fully automatic honeycomb warehouse into operation

330 storage units, mainly storing aluminum, copper and plastic, are available in the state-of-the-art honeycomb warehouse of Paul Vahle GmbH & Co. KG is available. (Photo: VAHLE)
Energy and data transmission as well as absolute positioning in the entire honeycomb storage system is carried out with in-house VAHLE products. (Photo: VAHLE)
VAHLE invests in flexible manufacturing - In line with the principle of "material to man". (Photo: VAHLE)

Paul Vahle GmbH & Co. KG has modernized production and intralogistics at its Kamen headquarters. With the installation of a honeycomb warehouse from the Swiss company fehr Lagerlogistik AG, the system provider for mobile industrial applications is fundamentally changing its manufacturing concept.

In the 330 honeycombs, the flexible honeycomb system stores goods with a length of over six meters and a weight of up to three tons per interchangeable cassette. The optimized material flow takes place via an automatic single-table storage and retrieval system directly to the assembly stations. All components for power and data transmission as well as positioning were supplied by VAHLE itself.

"This innovative production site is an expression of VAHLE's capabilities. It enables us to serve the individual wishes and requirements of our customers even better," says Henning Stelte, Head of Operations at Paul Vahle GmbH & Co. KG, explaining the restructuring at the Kamen headquarters. To this end, following the commissioning of the automatic small parts warehouse last year, the company has now invested a seven-figure sum in the new long goods honeycomb warehouse. "With the LEAN concept implemented, we are digitizing, networking and streamlining our processes and can thus make our material flow and the flow of goods to our customers more efficient," says Stelte.

The fehr Lagerlogistik AG system has 330 storage units with a honeycomb length of up to 6.4 meters, each of which can store up to three tons. The heart of the system is the automatic storage and retrieval machine (AS/RS), which moves the goods to their respective honeycomb at up to 120 meters per minute once they have been stored. As soon as an employee requests production material, the AS/RS moves the entire storage cassette out and transports it to the assembly station. There, the required quantity is removed before the goods rack is transported back to its storage location. Fully automatic order-based control is provided by the connection to VAHLE's ERP system. Holger von der Heyde, the project manager responsible for Kaizen and process improvement at VAHLE, outlines the benefits: "This way, we streamline our work processes and increase material availability in production. In line with the principle of 'material to man', employees can concentrate on purely value-adding steps."

In order to integrate the new plant into the existing infrastructure, extensive foundation work was carried out in the existing 2,500 square meter production hall and a technical infrastructure designed for sustainability was installed. Innovative operating equipment including robot-assisted production lines enable an efficient flow of materials. "In addition, the system increases work safety in the hall, as additional forklift and crane journeys are largely eliminated," says the project manager. To this end, the hall floor is also color-coded to clearly distinguish transport routes from production areas. Goods are delivered via a newly built extension with around 100 square meters. "In this way, we concentrate the handling of long goods in just one area and decentralize what happens on the factory premises," explains von der Heyde.

The energy and data transmission as well as absolute positioning in the entire honeycomb storage system is carried out with in-house VAHLE products. It is supplied with energy by the VKS10 conductor system, in the profile of which the APOS Magnetic gliding positioning system is also installed, which guarantees positioning of the AS/RS with millimeter accuracy. Interference-free communication takes place via the SMGM vCOM data transmission system integrated on the HRL profile. This combination, installed in a honeycomb warehouse for the first time, enables completely new application scenarios for smart logistics solutions, for example, the digital networking of various plant components and the implementation of multiple video live streams of different processes.

The honeycomb warehouse will therefore also serve as an operational showroom for the systems provider for mobile industrial applications, as VAHLE Managing Director Achim Dries explains: "Our customers can get an on-site impression of the functional scope of our products here." For this purpose, the facility is equipped with cameras that transmit live images to a screen in the showroom. VAHLE sees the cooperation with fehr as a promising symbiosis for the development of modern state-of-the-art logistics centers.

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