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System retrofit projects for business


Demand in the market-place for system retrofits is growing. For so-called retrofit projects, intra-logistics can be updated to state of the art technology quickly and cost-efficiently.

For this particular market segment the service department at SSI Schäfer offers a comprehensive program. Business activities range from demand-oriented concepts including investment estimates, completion time-lines, energy-efficiency and IT-solutions.

Automation and modern intra-logistics solutions increase the productivity and efficiency of a warehouse. Rapidly changing product offerings, more orders with smaller lot sizes plus significantly increased demand for flexibility combine to require new and more efficient systems and holistic solutions for faster, cost-effective access to the goods.

However, the "optimum solution" is not always necessary or possible. System modernization or expansion, so-called retrofitting, is often an alternative. By modernizing systems and system components the operational safety is not only increased, but also results in improved warehouse availability and a reduction in personnel costs of up to 30 percent. Intelligent resource management and green logistics offer further potentials. Based on these parameters, retrofit projects become more and more important. Significant aspect: updating the IT-environment and drive and control engineering.

SSI Schäfer responded to this development in the early stages by forming a specialized group. Using their business strategies, warehouse and production systems can be updated quickly and safely to the latest state of the art technology by exchanging components, expanding or modernizing IT, and adding new material flows which can be optimally linked to existing production systems. This applies to old systems from SSI Schäfer as well as to systems from third parties.

During the last few years, SSI Schäfer has completed a two-digit number of retrofit-projects every year. Key to these projects: For the most part, old systems are in operation where failures would lead to a negative business outcome. In addition, the time frames for the reorganization are shorter. And: Existing and often restrictive building structures have to be considered during the planning phase for the future logistics concept. Meeting schedules, flexibility and expertise regarding business specific processes and available technologies are therefore required from the plant engineer.

These requirements are fulfilled by SSI Schäfer with an extensive service offer. First, the necessary requirement for retrofit-measures is determined by specialists from SSI Schäfer. When planning the new intra-logistics concept, the focus is on the mechanical and electrical optimization of the system and the processes, taking into consideration optimal space utilization and/or creating free space. Ultimate goal: optimization and transparency of material flow, sizing the load carriers to be used, as well as work station design - consideration of safety concepts following new machine guidelines. With the customer, a schedule for implementation is prepared, with as little impact on production as possible. SSI Schäfer recently exchanged the entire tray conveyor system, including drive and control engineering for the storage and retrieval machines at KHS in Dortmund, in ten weekends.

When modernizing or integrating dynamic system components, special emphasis is placed on the integration of e.g. energy-efficient drives. This ranges from efficiency-optimized drive versions and the so-called deadweight balance via an intelligent control of SRM-main axles including power recovery devices as well as scheduling shutdowns. Old drives and converters are replaced by modern, energy-saving and powerful aggregates, the controls are modified to Siemens S7 and the communication to TCP/IP-protocols.

Orders are currently in progress for logistics providers such as Geodis or Plastal in Hambach. Replacement of the existing warehouse management system with the SSI Schäfer software "ant" was successfully completed in the last few months for SKF, Berlin. The existing order-picking workstations and computer hardware were also modernized and updated at this project.

Last but not least - the topic maintenance and availability. The newly installed components not only increase the efficiency and throughput by improving networking of the single controls, but in fact the new systems are significantly lower-maintenance and generally offer better and faster remote maintenance possibilities.

The example of brand manufacturer Braun located in Marktheidenfeld indicates that such projects can be planned and implemented with SSI Schäfer. The continuous modernization of a nine-aisle high-bay warehouse was coordinated and implemented with the customer over several years. At this point, the components are state-of-the-art and the 1982 system has subsequently received a CE-certificate.

These examples confirm: retrofitting is often a good alternative compared to the high investment for constructing a new system. Companies who regularly modernize always receive state-of-the-art systems - and benefit of the economics of the system. The first priority for all parameters is: "As much optimization as possible, as little disturbance of daily operations as necessary“. The result is a single integrated solution. The high availability and the extended life span of the modernized production system also offers good protection for the investment.

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