Upping the Tempo in Logistics
Storck optimizes distribution with coding and marking technologies from REA LABEL
Storck is one of the world’s ten largest confectionery manufacturers, selling its products in over 100 countries. The company’s state-of-the-art logistics centers at its production sites in Halle, Westphalia, and Ohrdruf in Thuringia enable Storck to provide 24-hour delivery in Europe. All processes are continuously optimized in order to react quickly and flexibly to market demands. A supply chain reorganization and upgrades to coding and marking processes are the latest developments.
New pallet labeling unit was to be integrated into the high-bay warehouses in Halle and Ohrdruf, at the transition point from warehouse to loading hall. Its aim was to automate and reduce the number of manual interventions needed to transport and mark pallets. Installation had to be implemented during ongoing operations, and the entire project across both sites had to be completed before the Christmas rush. Successful project execution was on a tight schedule, demanding precise planning and reliable implementation from REA’s experts.
Facing such a huge challenge, Storck left nothing to chance. The company commissioned a comprehensive market analysis, including a vendor comparison, and enlisted the services of a project team from Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences to analyze the suggested solutions in detail. Finally, the choice was made to use the high-quality pallet labelers from REA LABEL. They had impressed Storck with their robust housings, stable mechanics, user-friendly software, state-of-the-art interfaces, and future-oriented technology. In addition, REA’s Service department was able to guarantee comprehensive flexibility and availability.
Standard coding and marking
Despite the tight deadline, eight pallet labelers were installed on schedule at the transition from the high-bay warehouse to the loading hall at both sites. At this transition point, pallets are distributed to a transport system with eight conveyors via four elevator shafts. Pallet labeling units from REA LABEL then labels the sides and both ends of the pallets. This marking is carried out while the pallets are stationary. There is no need to raise or lower the pallets using an actuator motor. The data for each pallet is sent via Profibus interface from the conveyor technology to the respective labeling unit. The pallet labeler detects the dimensions and edges automatically, ensuring precise compliance with the positions for labels specified in the GS1 standard. With labels applied to three sides, up to 80 pallets can be processed per hour. The GS1-compliant labels contain product and order-specific data for forwarders and customers, such as route information, weight, best before dates and article numbers.
Not only did integration of the pallet labeling equipment into the logistics process run smoothly – REA LABEL also impresses thanks to its easy handling during daily operations. The systems are fully automatic and are monitored locally. All notifications are clearly shown. For operation on the line itself, there is an integrated terminal with an illuminated, LCD plain text display and user-friendly touch panel. Each system is also equipped with three different colored lamps to indicate the respective operating status.
Industry 4.0 is standard at REA LABEL. Interface programming for data communication makes it easy to integrate the pallet labelers into the existing infrastructure and Storck’s warehouse management system. Required just in time, the print data are transferred from the higher-level warehouse management system directly to the pallet labelers. The labels are printed inline and applied in line with the standard. The conveyor technology/labeler interface was implemented via a DP/DP coupler, while safety-related signals are processed digitally.
Both automatic data exchange and a large selection of thermo-transfer printer modules go without saying for REA LABEL, enabling special customer requests to be implemented. Use of high-quality components and the integrated, freely programmable PLC control means that the systems can be configured as needed. The system housing protects against dust, while a heating or air conditioning unit ensures the optimum operating temperature if necessary. REA LABEL pallet labelers are also available in a stainless-steel version and can be used in the cold chain down to minus 24°C.
Storck is very pleased with the pallet labeling equipment from REA LABEL: “We have found a high-performance, future-oriented solution which we can adapt to current and future tasks as needed. This allows us to react much more quickly and flexibly to market demands,” reports Frank Müller, Head of the Logistics Center in Halle.