More space and more flexibility. That was the wish of Mafell AG in Oberndorf am Neckar in Germany. The number of SKUs has been increasing drastically during the past years, space for items for the in-house tool manufacture drew to a close. Thus, the existing logistics centre was enhanced with established technologies by systems integrator TGW. More storage space and flexibility are the result.
Those who are working with wood, simply cannot ignore Mafell. The tool manufacturer for wood working from Oberndorf am Neckar, Germany, supports craftsmen with high quality and innovative tools solutions with special working comfort. The end customer is able to rely on Mafell tools and may follow his or her intuition when working with them. Regarding logistics, the company followed their strategy.
„In the year 2007, Mafell implemented a TGW automated mini-load warehouse with two aisles. Since then, there have been a lot of changes at Mafell. The production stock is composed differently, the revenue of finished products has increased and processes in production and assembly have been adapted. In order to meet these new requirements and to create the basis for further growth, we decided an extension of the automated mini-load warehouse was necessary,” Andrea Heinzelmann, Project Manager at Mafell remembers the start of the logistics extension.
The aim of the project was to increase flexibility and safety. This was accomplished by expanding the existing logistics system at Mafell in the German Schwarzwald: TGW adapted the picking, the warehouse and the entire control system to state-of-the-art technologies. A custom-made materials handling system by TGW supports the tool manufacturer to further Mafell’s success story.
Expansion of the automated mini-load warehouse
The existing automated mini-load warehouse consisted of two aisles. Due to bottleneck situations in the warehouse caused by an increasing number of SKUs, an additional mini-load aisle was implemented. An additional 8,000 tote storage positions on 20 levels were provided in order to support the company’s growth. In the mini-load aisles, a Mustang stacker crane with a Combi Telescope was built. For the third aisle, TGW erected a new P&D station (Pick-up and Delivery station) including a stacker crane transfer station. The picking area was then enlarged by a third workstation. This additional workstation gives Mafell additional flexibility and adaptability regarding the growing SKU volume. In addition, an extension of the existing loop was commissioned independently.
State-of-the-art technologies by TGW
With the state-of-the-art Commander Controls, the safety of the equipment is guaranteed – a special issue regarding the modernisation of existing installations. “The challenge in the implementation of Retrofit projects is the seamless integration of the latest technologies into existing installations. The installation’s live operation should not be influenced,” explains Rainer Baumgartner, Head of Retrofit Realization at TGW Systems Integration. “For a successful realization of such projects, sound technical expertise is equally important as close collaboration with the customer.”
Server virtualisation – de-connecting processes
For a smoothly operating logistics system, the processes and strategies in the IT subsystem are of utmost importance. Due to the quickly changing technologies in the IT sector and the related economic and technical risks, TGW focused on modernising Mafell’s IT hardware and software. The existing server was exchanged and the IT subsystems were migrated into the virtual environment. This way, the disconnecting of the used hardware was enabled. “The server virtualization was a special challenge regarding the hardware requirements of the project ‘Optimalo_3G’ to integrate it into an existing server environment,” says Kurt Ammann, Head of IT at Mafell. “It was solved together with the Retrofit team by TGW.”
3 weeks on site – 2 months of preparations
The entire system was prepared and tested at TGW in Wels, Austria. The preparations of the modernisation lasted about six weeks and for the actual realization TGW teams were on site for three weeks. In tight time slots, which took place exclusively outside operating times and on weekends in order not to disturb the general operation, the teams worked on the solution. One weekend for the extension of the aisle, one weekend for the new picking station and another weekend for the virtualisation of the IT systems. “Working together with the TGW team was a very positive experience. Our requirements were understood and the plans were realized on time by great project management and competent employees,” says Andrea Heinzelmann commenting about the TGW Retrofit at Mafell. Thomas Witzeneder, Project Manager at TGW Systems Integration about the successful project: „The collaboration between Mafell and TGW was great. We worked together very closely, which was obviously a factor for the successful realization. The many visits on site and the intense understanding for the customer are very important.”