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Holistic Solution in Automation for Handling of Display Pallets in Retail


With the Schaefer Display Sequencer, SSI Schaefer developed an innovative solution in the industry out of established components for the requirements of the handling and distribution centers of the retail industry.

It turns Storage and Retrieval Machines into pickers. Result: high turnovers and process stability in the highly dynamic display handling by way of an automatic handling of display pallets and a significant reduction of handling cost.

All for one and one for all – the theme of the novel “The Three Musketeers” gains a new dimension in intra-logistics for the retail industry. The focus here is on pallet handling in handling and distribution centers. With the Schaefer Display Sequencer (SDS), so the labelling of the new, holistic system solution, SSI Schaefer, Giebelstadt, brought to market a new industry specific solution for the automatic handling and warehousing especially for quarter- and Düsseldorfer pallets. With the intelligent combination of established single components from the conveyor technique, steel construction, and IT, SSI Schaefer developed an efficient all-in solution for the automatic, sequenced, and highly dynamic handling of every type of pallet used in the retail industry within one single system. Chief attraction: with this concept the Storage and Retrieval Machine (SRM is already turned into a fully automatic and efficient picker. Besides optimum process safety by automated handling of display pallets without further load supporting material, this brings about a significant reduction of handling cost and an increase in handling performance.

In order to increase total revenue and sales, the retail industry puts increased emphasis on half and quarter pallets, the so-called display pallets. Those are especially suitable to replenish the store shelves as one complete unit, present items on sale or initiate impulse buying. Advantages are maximum use of sales areas and shelf space as well as cost reduction by reduced product damage and decreased efforts in storing goods. At goods receiving, the delivery of quarter and half pallets normally happens on Euro pallets as load handling device. At good shipping on the other hand, the display pallets are loaded without load carrying pallets as there are usually no lifting devices for unloading the goods available at the branch stores. This brings about considerable handling efforts as there is so far no adequate solution for efficient handling and picking of display pallets for cross docking. The consequence: high and time-consuming manpower requirements, reduced throughput as well as picking mistakes and restrictions of picking quality.

Remedial measure is the so far for the market unique, integrated complex solution called Schaefer Display Sequencer by SSI Schaefer. With it, the intra-logistics specialists from Giebelstadt developed an intelligent warehousing and picking solution from established single components for the automated handling of both pallet types in one system. Advantage for the user: the cross docking of display pallets, the storage, picking, and distribution of half and quarter pallets is done fully automatically and without further load handling devices. This enables fast, cost-efficient picking processes and leads to a minimisation of product damages as well as a reduction of turnover and labour costs. “No other company in the market is currently able to offer such a comprehensive and praxis oriented solution for the cross docking of display pallets“, judges Andreas Oy, head of sales at SSI Schaefer, Giebelstadt. “With the performance characteristics the Schaefer Display Sequencer offers to the user, SSI Schaefer has a unique selling point in the market.”

With the SDS all processes from goods receiving to shipping are continuously geared toward an automated handling of display pallets. The delivered load carrying pallets are de-foiled and the stacked half or quarter pallets are automatically separated from the source pallet before the hand-over to the SRM. Specialty: “By the use of a special sensor system, the positioning of the quarter pallets, their feet asymmetrically designed and aligned, on the Euro pallet is at once determined”, Oy explains. “On the basis of this information the display pallets are at the moment of separation from the load carrying pallet and the transfer to the conveying system aligned in such a way that they are lead to the in-feed stations of the central warehouse in continuously equal positioning.” This increases safety and stability during the following intra-company transport and further automated handling. The used conveyor system is a modified development of established conveyor components by SSI Schaefer. The design is tailored to the transport of pallet types used in retail.

The same is true for the new V-load handling devices (LHD) of the SRMs that store and retrieve the pallets in the rack storage system. Controlled by the material flow system and with the information of the superposed warehouse management system the SRMs identify at the point of reception of the pallets the type of the respective pallet. Depending on the supply, the LHD takes either one half or two quarter display pallets in one operating sequence. By means of the even positioning of the quarter pallets at the pick-up station the whole handling of the quarter pallets on the conveying line as well as by the SRMs happens in the predetermined positioning. This increases the dependability of the processes, provides failure-free sequences, and increases the throughput. Moreover, the LHD of the SRMs as well as the storage positions in the rack storage are tailored to this standardised alignment. “Nonetheless, the compartments in the rack storage can flexibly be used depending on available space with three half or up to six display pallets”, Oy explains. For this purpose, a rack system with special support beams was developed for the new V-load handling device on the basis of available components. They are conceptualised for use in all SSI Schaefer standard racks. Thus, they can be installed in rack-supported as well as in-house constructions.

The specialty of the new system design that SSI Schaefer developed for the automated handling of all current pallet types as a mix shows most notably at the stock release processes: With the SDS the SRM conducts downright picking runs during the retrieval process. At one play, e.g., the V-load handling device retrieves two quarter or one half pallet from the storage position and transfers them to the goods-out conveyor. Specialty: the retrieval of the different types of pallets can happen from various storage positions. “Thus, with the retrieval from the rack storage, the SRMs are already taking over a sequencing and order picking according to the requirements of the branch stores”, Oy explains. “This makes the Schaefer Display Sequencer design an optimum system solution for the handling and distribution of the retail industry that more and more tailors the distribution structures to the quarter and half pallets.”

Retrieval and transfer of half and quarter pallets to the shipping conveyors as well as the allocation at goods-out are also being conducted according to store requirements and without slave pallet. Another outstanding feature of the system solution is: it is level with the ground. “Thus, display pallets can comfortably be accessed and shipped with various transport vehicles”, Oy explains. “Forklift trucks with extra-long forks that are designed for picking up several pallets can take up to four half or eight quarter pallets in one step with these pallets already arranged in the right order as requested by the store.” For newly built plants a deepening of the floor slap is designed for these special goods-out lines.

At goods receiving/goods shipping, the SDS concept allows for the sorting and handling of several hundred quarter pallets per hour depending on the plant layout. “With this turnover rate we are in a high frequency area with our Schaefer Display Sequencer”, Oy judges. Furthermore, for the material flow controls, interfaces for all current warehouse management systems such as WAMAS by SSI Schaefer or SAP based solutions are available already in standard designs. “With the automated pallet handling of half and quarter display pallets – and, of course, also Euro pallets upon demand – in one system as well as the designed sequenced picking already in rack storage the Schaefer Display Sequencer offers distinctly improved turnover performances to users, a significant reduction of failure and damage quotas during the handling of display pallets and a sustainable increase of service levels”, Oy sums up. “Thus, the SDS is an integrated, holistic solution in the industry for the current practice requirements in retail as well as for an increase of competitive capacity of producers and service providers.”

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