Intelligent shelves for reordering automatically 03 June 2021

Due to constant and rapid growing markets, Würth Industrie Service GmbH & Co KG is automating and digitalising the logistics processes in C-part management. Taking advantage of this is agricultural engineering company Fendt International, which has implemented RFID technology at its production site in Waldstetten, Germany.

By the middle of 2020, a classic two bin Kanban system was also then deployed for around 1,450 active bins with more than 450 different products, from the range of fasteners and fastening elements, in four storage locations – combined with a standardised barcode scanner.

Different departments such as purchasing, disposition, materials management and logistics were all faced with major challenges – owing to a wide range of products, multiple storage locations and unforeseeable demand fluctuations. Since connected and coordinated logistics processes are the basis for Industry 4.0 in modern C-parts management, production lines are becoming more flexible and digitalisation is proving to be more indispensable. Würth Industrie Service therefore suggested the use of RFID technology as an important and pioneering solution to combine progress and tradition. In this context, the decision was taken to implement an RFID supported Kanban system along with the intelligent shelf iSHELF®.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It recognises data via radio control and automatically transfers orders from the production of Fendt to the central storage facility of Würth Industrie Service. The four storage locations of Fendt are now equipped with intelligent RFID shelves iSHELF.

At the core of the technology are the transponders integrated with the Kanban bin, which save the information such as bin type, item number, description, filling quantity, batch and automatically reorder the item, as and when required. If a bin is empty, the iSHELF directly detects this via an integrated ‘sender receiver unit’ in the shelf. The shelf reads the RFID chip and transfers the information about the item and quantity directly to the ERP system (SAP) as well as to the Kanban management system developed in-house.

The advantages of iSHELF are very clear – by completely automating the ordering process, the potential sources of errors are specifically prevented. The required goods are picked up from the logistics centre of Würth Industrie Service and then dispatched. On-site, a system administrator from Würth Industrie Service fills the bins in the shelves at the storage facilities.

The results speak for themselves – on one hand, the security and speed of supply has increased significantly, in a way that the required goods are available on-site up to seven days before the normal estimated time. On the other hand, the error rate along with the number of incorrect deliveries, as well as the risk of delivery bottlenecks and production standstill, has dropped significantly.

In the wake of digitalisation and automated processes, Fendt has been able to reduce inventories and procurement effort. Having fewer bins in circulation means there are additional storage capacities within the production. This is also reflected in the form of pecuniary advantage. The inventories for around 450 products with the RFID-based solution can therefore be significantly reduced. At the same time, the response time is faster and the delivery is quicker and more stable. To some extent, these figures clarify the potential of such automated solutions.

For restructuring the four storage locations, an implementation team of six employees from Würth Industrie Service were deployed on-site in Waldstetten for three days, to prioritise personal support. An individual point contact from inside staff, field staff and key account management is assigned to provide on-site support in the process flow. 

Deputy Editor

Claire Aldridge Deputy Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 743 889

Biog

Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.

Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.