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TGW Gives Spare Parts Logistics New Momentum

2010-12-07

For more than 50 years the family-owned company Prillinger of Wels, Austria, has been active as a partner and supplier of agricultural technology, providing specialist trade and technology repair shops with consumables products and spare parts. Over 45,000 articles are on hand at the warehouse in Wels and orders are sent overnight from here to about 3,000 customers in Austria and the surrounding countries.

In 1997 Prillinger invested in a fully automated small parts warehouse supplied by TGW. With about 9,500 tote storage locations and integrated goods-to-man order picking stations it satisfied its customers requirement for a high quality logistics service. Since the realisation of the automated, material handling solution unsurprisingly things have changed and demands on the equipment increased exponentially; after all it has been working every day for 12 years and beginning to show its age.

"We must accelerate our processes, bring more parts into the automatic small parts warehouse, secure our position against obsolescence and extend the service life of the facility, which has been in intensive use for 12 years," Franz Edlbauer, Managing Partner of Prillinger GmbH, explains.

Leaving ongoing operations mostly undisturbed

Together with its customer Prillinger, general logistics contractor TGW, also located in Wels, developed a modernisation scenario that fulfilled all the requirements to maintain the ongoing operations mostly undisturbed and to make the facility fit for at least another 10 years of service. This concept included the complete replacement of the Simatic S5 control system by an S7 control system, an exchange of the material flow control system software, the integration into a new host system, and the general overhaul and upgrade of the existing TGW Mustang automatic storage and retrieval machines.

The entire modernisation programme had to be planned with a schedule that minimised interference in Prillinger’s operations. The realisation was therefore a rapid, closely managed process; construction started shortly before Christmas 2009 and the date of completion including the introduction of the new host system was set for the middle of January 2010, whereby the Christmas holiday period was fully exploited for the implementation of the warehouse upgrade. "We decided to schedule the three weeks with the lowest utilisation in the year for the modernisation," Edlbauer says. "During this period, we kept the 1,000 most important articles from the automatic small parts warehouse available in a smaller storage area to keep the storage capacity as high as possible despite the construction."

Early training for a problem-free productive launch

Even before the actual modernisation work on the warehouse started, TGW installed and tested the entire material flow controls on a test system, including the interfaces to the new host system. "As early as the beginning of December, we were able to extensively train the Prillinger operational team in the handling of the new material flow control system and the new considerably enhanced and user-friendlier control screens," Werner Weißböck, responsible for modernisation at TGW, says. "The Prillinger team was already familiar with new procedures and screens for the most part prior to the “go live” in January, which enabled a problem-free and productive launch." In addition, the early testing meant that the time required for commissioning in the real system could be considerably reduced.

Perfect timing of the modernisation work

Within the course of the modernisation of the automatic storage and retrieval machines, all obsolete and worn components and the entire control system, including control cabinets, cabling and sensors were replaced. Highly accurate planning, commitment, cooperation and strict adherence to deadlines on an hourly basis are essential to completing such projects on time. Franz Edlbauer also confirmed that "the conversion work of TGW was perfectly organised. Throughout the entire modernisation work, Prillinger did not have to provide many resources. Only our logistics manager, the IT manager, and a plant supervisor were involved on a daily basis."

The most cost effective upgrade of the load handling units was to replace the old with the latest generation of TGW devices. This approach provides an enormous time advantage as the new load handling devices are fully assembled and completely tested at the TGW factory before installation on site.

Complete replacement of the S5 by an S7 control system

"Safeguarding the future is an important reason for modernising plants. The switchover to the S7 control system brings Prillinger considerable advantages because it guarantees that the control system components will continue to be available in the long term," Werner Weißböck of TGW says. The entire control system was equipped with the latest generation of components. Within the course of the modernisation of the control system, a Profibus system was also installed and the data communication of the plant has been updated to this state of the art technology.

To increase the process speed, Prillinger relied on the replacement of the existing material flow system with the latest generation of TGW’s CI_LOG material flow control system. CI_LOG offers considerably more functions and provides Prillinger with optimised storage strategies including zone classification within the warehouse. "Due to the new software, we can manage more parts in the warehouse because we can divide the existing totes into smaller units," Franz Edlbauer explains. And Werner Weißböck adds: "In addition to the A-/B-/C-classification, we have also implemented a redundant distribution of the articles over the existing warehouse aisles. In this way, we have also guaranteed the availability of the articles in case of an emergency."

Considerable increase in output achieved

The implementation of the entire modernisation concept, tailored to Prillinger's needs, achieved a clear increase in output. "We now have almost 35% more accessions of the articles in the automatic small parts warehouse than before," Franz Edlbauer says, clearly pleased. This increase in output was mainly made possible by the new CI_LOG material flow control system. With a plant availability of 98.5%, this output is resilient and sustainable in the long-term.

"In fact, we now once again have a plant that is as good as new with a corresponding life expectancy of 10 to 15 years," Franz Edlbauer says in satisfaction. For the coming years, the Prillinger service offering is guaranteed. "I'm pleased that we decided to modernise and upgrade the facility because the price-performance ratio is very good for us and the project was very professionally and successfully implemented by TGW."

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PI_ENG_Retrofit_Prillinger.doc 122 KB DOC