Case Study Umbreit - Library & Publishing - Industries - TGW Logistics Group
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Case Study Umbreit

Storage for over 330,000 book titles with overnight book delivery service

Case Study Umbreit

    Books direct from the publishers are unpacked in goods arrivals and placed on a conveyor belt without using a load carrier.


UMBREIT is one of Germany's biggest and busiest book wholesalers. The book wholesale business is the interface between publishers and booksellers. The firm provides a warehousing facility serving over 3000 customers in Germany and Luxembourg.

G. Umbreit's headquarters are in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany. They provide services for the following business areas: press wholesale, book forwarding and publishers' deliveries. Their wide range of services provides their customers the opportunity to obtain everything from a single source. The enormous challenge this brings with it is to combine reliability, innovation, speed and punctuality.

In an effort to continue to meet all of these demanding requirements successfully, UMBREIT decided to extend, modernize, optimize and refurbish its outdated picking materials handling plant.


  • storage for over 330,000 book titles
  • an expanding range
  • overnight book delivery service
  • integration of the old and still functional plant in the new logistic system
  • significant improvement in throughput performance


Books direct from the publishers are unpacked in goods arrivals and placed on a conveyor belt without using a load carrier. Larger quantities are transported in totes on a roller conveyor that is placed beneath the belt conveyor. Six goods arrivals positions are positioned on both sides of the conveyor system. After the receipts are entered, a barcode is printed out and attached to the stack of books. This machine-readable label contains the barcode for the picking area and the coordinates of the shelves where the books are to be stored. In addition, each label also includes the name of the author and the title of the book. This provides a “human readable” label for people on the line to check for errors.

The goods arrivals spur belt discharges at right angles to an extended loop. Connected to this loop is a tote station where a “bus“ is parked serving each single picking area and marked with a bar code with the target code of its picking area. Book stacks are distributed among the respective transport totes as they arrive. The full totes are moved onto the discharge roller conveyor and carried to the correct picking station via branches of the conveyor system. Here the pickers remove the goods arrivals totes from the accumulation roller line and place them in their storing positions. At the end of the procedure the empty totes roll back automatically to goods arrivals.

Picking orders are started from the control center. The dispatcher scans an order that is comprised of the address sheet, picking list, delivery note and a label sheet of title barcodes and places the order in the tote. From this point on, the whole process is directed by the material flow computer. This sends the totes to the first picking station as required by the order. Barcode scanners at each branch of the conveyor system read the tote code using an extremely fast interbus to query the material flow computer about where the totes are to be re-directed. The material flow computer directs tote flow via a subordinated S7-control.

The 20 existing picking stations in the old structure have been extended by 12 additional picking areas in the new logistic system. Since the picking stations are on two tiers TGW has installed two new continuous lifts (Z-conveyors) in the new structure to optimize the flow. The totes are transported to the picking stations via a conveyor path optimized by the material flow computer. Here the pickers fill the totes as directed on the pick lists before handing them back to the conveyor system.

After a weight check the books go on to dispatch, or if there is a discrepancy between actual and desired weight, the book is directed to the quality control area. If a book is found to be missing, this tote ID is reported to the material flow computer and the tote is directed to a target station where the error must be corrected.

In an additional step the packaging area has been provided with a new feed-in system and the packing line has also been extended . These modifications have boosted throughput performance for the entire line by 30%.


A significant challenge was posed in the development of this system, as books needed to be transferred from spur belts at right angles to the main loop conveyor. The issue was that stacked books tipped over as they transferred around the sharp right turn. This was further aggravated by the small format of some of the books. This difficult issue of finding an acceptable transition from the spur belts to the main loop was resolved with a prototype developed at the TGW facility in Wels, Austria.

TGW Z-conveyors (continuous lifts) are used to link the two picking levels in the newly developed section. These are continuously running vertical  conveyors by  which totes are carried up to another level with the aid of a carrier grid. When the conveyor operates for over 30 seconds without being provided with a tote, it switches into an idle mode, but starts up again quickly when a tote runs through a light barrier. Rigid backed chains with axle tubes form the basis of the steel grids that are returned to the starting point via precision roller chains.

While in the old system totes were “plucked” in an anything but a gentle manner by chain output systems onto the buffer lane, TGW pop-up transfer elements now guide the totes to the newly developed picking area in  a smooth and gentle transition. There is space for 20 totes on each picking area accumulation roller line and the pickers look for the next order in strict accordance with the priorities as determined at the control center and set in the form of colored cards attached to the totes. This method ensures that all orders for long distance destinations have priority over local orders.

For more information about the company please visit the Umbreit website at

Our references

TGW Logistics Group

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