Additional Benefit for Process Efficiency
SSI Schaefer has created highly dynamic distribution center
Kühne + Nagel Gruppe
The ongoing trend in inventory management leads to outsourcing logistic services. The contractors attend to their core business while storage and distribution are assigned to specialized service providers.
With approximately 63,000 employees at more than 1,000 locations in over 100 countries, the Kuehne + Nagel Group is one of the world’s leading logistics companies. Worldwide, the company offers its customers around 7 million m² of storage space – nearly 33,000 m² in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Here the company has recently constructed its new, national distribution center for food.
Within a few months, the intra-logistics specialist SSI Schaefer built for the contract service provider a multi-client distribution center with a throughput of up to 220 pallets per hour and versatile technical features, which are unparalleled amongst competitors. From the integration of new, innovative layer-picking robots for the automatic layer picking to an electric pallet conveyor for the internal transport as well as a 12-aisle high-bay warehouse (HBW) with a Schaefer Orbiter System (SOS) and 2-side redundant access on the rack channels up to an intelligent material flow control for storage and retrieval, picking, and crossdocking an outstanding solution in efficiency, availability, and process reliability.
In the central Dutch distribution center Lage Weide in Utrecht of the Logistics Service Provider Kuehne + Nagel, SSI Schaefer has created a flexible, highly dynamic solution with more efficient processes by creating innovative system combinations and intelligent material flows. With the Orbiter shuttle, functions of a deep-lane storage system have been integrated into a 12-aisle high-bay warehouse for food. The use of layer picking robots with innovative gripping technology enables automated layer picking. The tailored logistics software provides a sequenced control of the complex material flows.
A special feature is the single rack channels offering space for 5 consecutive Euro pallets or 4 industry pallets whose storing positions can be handled from 2 aisles lying side by side. The rack channels are separated in dynamic FIFO-uniform semi-channels. Thus, the front pallets can always be retrieved after loading the channel without needing any relocation. The combination of storage and retrieval machines (SRM) and Orbiter shuttles as load handling devices results in higher flexibility and efficiency. After acceptance of the pallets, the SRM moves the pallet into the aisle and stops in front of the rack channel defined by the logistics software. There, the Orbiter shuttle lifts the pallet and moves it to the defined destination position in the channel. Compared to conventional deep-lane storage systems, the flexibility on item variety is significantly higher in the dynamic deeplane storage system.
The transport of the goods-receiving pallets to the transfer positions for the storage and retrieval machines is handled by the electric rail system. It forwards the goods received to the storage spurs for the SRMs or – for the cross-docking – on the provision spurs for the goods shipping or to the connected picking stations. The conveying system directly leads the pallets to shipping or to the automatic layer picking. Two robots which are equipped with special gripping systems pick the items layer by layer from up to two source pallets on one of the target pallets. The order pallets picked that are ready for shipping at the robot stations are moved by the conveying system back to the provision conveyor and into goods shipping. Five transfer stations are implemented at the end of the conveying system. Forklifts accept the order pallets ready for shipment in the dispatch area and move them to the respective provision zone at the goods shipping gates.
High-Bay Warehouse (HBW)
L x W x H
114 x 82 x 34 m
EURO and INDU pallets
43,700 EURO pallets or 35,900 INDU pallets
max. 1.200 kg
Type of storage
Up to 5-fold deep
HBW – Storage and Retrieval Machine (SRM)
Load handling device
Pallet Conveying System
Roller conveyor, chain conveyor, in-feed/out-feed station,
Warehouse Management System
Data base system
“By combining the SRM and Orbiter shuttles as load handling devices, we were able to integrate the function of a deep-lane storage system into the HBW which offered additional process improvements for food stock with best-before dates. We take care of four clients in the new distribution center. Due to the plant design, we are able to send full pallets or picked pallets. The fully automated compilation of the pick pallets is done with two robots. The design of the layer picking robots as well as the design and control of the flows of goods around the robots are considered a core piece of the entire plant. They were important decision criteria when awarding the order to SSI Schaefer. In this connection, it played a large role that SSI Schaefer could offer both the design, the conveying system and also the logistics software from one source as well as the HBW and the electrical rail system. With the specific specialties of plant technology and process control, SSI Schaefer has implemented a highly flexible and significantly efficient distribution center in Utrecht. The timely course of the project reaffirms our decision to place the contract for such a complex project to SSI Schaefer. The solution provides sustainability in equipment and capacity which will allow for further growth. We are absolutely pleased with the results.”
John Pelzer, Technical Manager, Kuehne + Nagel Netherlands
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- The project in detail
Total picking area:
High-bay warehouse area:
Items in the product line