The growth strategy pursued by the winery Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller (ZGM) also included an expansion of its logistical operations. The new intralogistical concept provides for a high-bay warehouse, so as to put in place the preconditions for merging the firm’s filling operations – at present still running at two facilities – at its headquarters in Zell an der Mosel, thus turning ZGM into one of Germany’s most efficient wineries.
“It has long since been our wish to safeguard the location on a long-term basis by merging the two facilities. This is the only thing that makes financial sense.
The original plan was to build a conventional warehouse for this purpose. But we changed our mind in favour of a high-bay warehouse, because otherwise we would not have been able to achieve our goal of a fully automated supply to, and removal from, the production operation to optimum effect. The smaller footprint likewise advocated a high-bay warehouse,” explains ZGM’s Managing Director Dr. Tina Schiemann, who is responsible for production and logistics. “Here, Krones was our preferred partner, because we’ve been enjoying a very good relationship with them for years now. What was also of crucial importance for the project as a whole was our wish to single-source everything, including construction of the high-bay warehouse. And Krones was able to supply this together with its subsidiary Syskron.”
What was also of crucial importance for the project as a whole was our wish to single-source everything, including the erection of the high-bay warehouse. And Krones was able to supply this together with its subsidiary Syskron.
In the fifth generation
Jacob Zimmermann set up the winery back in 1886. With Johannes Hübinger, the great-grandson of the founding father, at the helm, Zimmermann-Graeff & Müller has since the late 1970s grown to its present size and established its international focus, thanks not least to expansion and various acquisitions. The current management team comprises
Johannes Hübinger’s two children, Dr. Tina Schiemann and Dominik Hübinger, and his son-in-law Kristian Schiemann.
At present, ZGM has a payroll of around 290. The family firm’s portfolio covers a wide range of German, European and New-World products, selling around 50 million litres each of German and foreign wines a year – not only in Germany, but also in over 37 other countries. All in all, four bottling lines and two bag-in-box lines are up and running at what are still two facilities in Zell and Kinheim.
Comprehensive, holistically conceived solution
The new logistical solution at ZGM comprises all the operations for incoming and outgoing goods – i.e. everything from raw materials and supplies (RMS) right up to fulls storage and dispatch. The range of jobs Syskron was tasked with was complex indeed, and in the final analysis covered almost all the procedural sequences in the facilities at Zell and Kinheim, plus the external warehouses as well.
- Incoming-goods reception for empties, closures, carton blanks, and finished products from other facilities
- Feeding raw materials into the production operation, and transporting the finished goods to the high-bay warehouse and to the manually operated storage areas by means of automated guided vehicles and permanently installed conveyors
- Managing the various manually operated block-type or bay-type warehouses and the fully automatic high-bay warehouse at the facility in Zell, order-picking using handheld devices
- Printing and applying customer-specific labels.
New intralogistical solution
- 30-metre-high and 70-metre-long high-bay warehouse with 15,260 pallet slots
- Five storage and retrieval units
- 1,562 SKUs (stock-keeping units) for fulls in the warehouse
- One direct link-up each to two glass lines and two bag-in-box lines
- 600-metre-long pallet conveyors
- Driverless transport system comprising six AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles), controlled by laser-based navigation and communicating with the higher-order control system by means of WiFi software
- SitePilot Logistic Execution Suite for controlling and managing all logistical procedures
The high-bay warehouse enables 130 pallets per hour to be stored and retrieved.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
The automatic high-bay warehouse comprises a total of 13 storage levels. The pallets are distributed two deep among the five storage-and-retrieval-unit aisles in a chaotic storage procedure. This is a two-stage process, using an aisle- and a slot-search function based on certain criteria. Besides the high-bay warehouse, ZGM also possesses a number of manually operated storage areas accommodating a variety of pallets earmarked for export, or raw materials and supplies.
The warehouses and storage areas are linked up to the production operation by means of pallet conveyors and a driverless transport system with six AGVs, which transport two pallets at a time. The two glass lines are the only exception here: these are in fact supplied with empties by the AGVs, but since they are very close to the storage area, their discharge zones are directly linked up by conveyors that take the pallets of fulls to the high-bay warehouse.
In the high-bay warehouse’s front zone, the dispatch pallets are placed in readiness for truck loading. Three descending roller conveyors, each accommodating eleven pallets, have been provided for each of the six truck-loading gates. An average of 30 vehicles a day are loaded by their drivers, using electric conveying trucks.
Many special cases
“The wine sector cannot be directly compared with the rest of the beverage industry,” says Managing Director Dr. Tina Schiemann. “It’s the extremely high product diversity, in particular, that necessitates an entirely different philosophy as far as filling and logistics are concerned. To give you an example: we still have to change over to a different product or package up to eight times a day. This same kind of flexibility is also required for intra-plant logistics. Here, we use nine different types of pallet, for example.” What’s involved for the vast majority of the orders (way over 90 per cent) is homogeneous pallets of fulls which are assembled automatically. A large number of the remaining special processes were likewise covered by the standard software modules, or integrated in customer-responsive form by specific modifications.
ZGM is also offering retailers half-pallets with only two layers of cartons. In order to assure maximum warehouse capacity utilisation, these are in the high-bay warehouse stored on top of each other in a single slot. Since sometimes only one half-pallet per article is needed for dispatch, these stacks must then first of all be separated and combined with other half-pallets, so as to make optimum use of the space available in the truck. Ten buffer slots serve to assemble the preselected pairs and to merge them into one transport unit. All of this is handled fully automatically.
However, ZGM also supplies its customers with quantities smaller than one pallet per type. In this case, up to 20 different articles can be order-picked on one pallet. This order-picking process for small individual items is also handled by the warehouse management system.
IT solution from Syskron
Syskron’s IT system consists of the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and the Material Flow Computer (MFC). Both of these software applications have been developed in their entirety by Syskron in-house, using state-of-the-art software and database technologies. So as to guarantee a high level of quality for the software at a very early stage, all functions are tested in-house beforehand by means of emulation models, and validated by the client. The applications are completely modularised in structure, and can be individually combined, so as to achieve a maximum of functional stability and flexibility. All IT systems can be tailored to suit the specific requirements and processes involved by means of very simple parameterisation, or if necessary by software expansion.
What’s more, the WMS likewise offers specifically targeted storage and retrieval strategies, so as to guarantee optimum capacity utilisation of storage and performative capabilities for the high-bay warehouse under normal conditions. Should stock transfers become necessary for compressing channels with the same article and/or the same batch within a single aisle, the system will detect this. Such transfers are then handled automatically, during non-productive times, for example, or an operator triggers the process manually. So as to save both time and energy, certain categories can also be defined on the basis of which fast-selling products are to be transferred to the front section of the high-bay warehouse.
Our new logistical system is most definitely a nice reference for Krones and Syskron.
“System is running with maximised stability”
“The system is running consistently, we are satisfied with the results achieved,” says Dr. Tina Schiemann.
“We’ve been able to reduce the number of staff working in logistics by eight, and these eight people can now be deployed elsewhere. What’s more, we now have substantially fewer loading errors, and order assignment is better, something which creates enhanced transparency, not least for our customers. Yet another advantage is that truck loading times have likewise been halved. Now that the logistical infrastructure is in place and running smoothly, we can tackle the next step of merging the two facilities with our minds at ease. We now have everything we need at our Zell plant for working even more efficiently in our daily routine,” she says, and adds: “Our new logistical system is most definitely a nice reference for Krones and Syskron.”
Wine filling with palletising centre
Following the successful commissioning of the new high-bay warehouse, ZGM has now placed an order with Krones for relocating two part-lines for bottling still and sparkling wines while simultaneously modernising these and upgrading them by including new machines. The following items will be integrated:
- New Mecafill VKP-ACF filler rated at 16,000 bottles an hour
- New modularised Topmodul labeller with stations for cold-glue and pressure-sensitive labels
- Palettising centre for both lines with two Modulpal Pro 1A palletisers
Commissioning is scheduled for the spring of 2019.