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All-rounder: Highly dynamic sequencing without bottlenecks


With the innovative concept of the 3D-MATRIX Solution®, SSI Schaefer offers a highly dynamic system solution for storage and picking of totes/cartons/trays, layer trays and pallets. The unique combination offers maximum flexibility and future-oriented scalability.

With the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution®, SSI Schaefer opens up a new dimension of automated warehouse systems. The modular concept provides highly dynamic system solutions for the storage and picking of individual items (piece picking), cases and whole pallets. First reference applications show: with a 3D-MATRIX Solution® from SSI Schaefer, users from any industry benefit from significantly higher efficiency and long-term value for the investment.

This is achieved by the special design of the 3D-MATRIX. “The warehouse cube of the 3D-MATRIX Solution® is a system which is open to all sides and eliminates the bottlenecks and restrictions of classic system solutions,” says Elmar Issing, New Technologies and Solutions Manager at SSI Schaefer. This approach allows for future upgrades and extensions and significantly improves process efficiency in the plant.

Background information: standard warehouse systems are typically designed for retrieval in the direction of the x-axis which is towards the front of the aisles. The vertical approach of the conveying systems on the y-axis is performed by means of storage and retrieval machines or lifts. The storage and retrieval machines or shuttle cars are equipped with load handling devices which directly access the storage positions (z-axis movement). The load carriers taken out of the storage compartments are handed over to the conveying systems or transfer stations by means of storage and retrieval machines. As the complete material flow of the warehouse converges to these few retrieval points and components the achieved system dynamic of the warehouse is limited by the transfer stations, the performance of the lifts, as well as the conveying system loops. “You can make storage and retrieval machines as fast as you want or equip the rack levels with even more shuttle systems, but the overall plant performance is determined by the small number of components where storage and retrieval operations are concentrated,” says Issing. “In addition, this problem prohibits proper sequencing.” Extensions of the plant and implementations of additional retrieval lines may result in further restrictions to the overall performance.

Four main problems result from this: The system intrinsic limited number of lifts results in retrieval and storage bottlenecks. As a consequence, the number of transfer stations is limited, thus decoupling the processes in the horizontal and vertical axes is only conditionally possible. When shuttles are used to increase the performance of the aisles, there will be significant bottlenecks on the conveying system loops in the pre-zone. Due to the nature of the system, sequencing will only be possible by additional and downstream sequencing systems.

The 3D-MATRIX Solution® from SSI Schaefer is different. The movements of the transport media in the warehouse in x-, y- and z-direction are separated from one another and carried out simultaneously. The system concept for totes, layer trays or pallets works with different shuttle systems. The requested load units are moved to lift transfer stations and buffered there. Individual access of the lifts to the transfer stations enables the sequencing of retrieval operations and load-dependent storage. Owing to this layout, almost any number of picking and shipping stations can be individually configured, integrated, and forwarded in sequence. Thus, all retrieval operations are performed separately and exclusively for the connected work station. “Dynamic performance and sequencing without bottlenecks,” says Issing. With this design, warehouses can be flexibly extended in length, width, and height without the need for changing the functionality of the overall system.

“With the new concept, individual plant layouts are possible just by using the flexible lifts. Warehouse processes and picking are performed independently in different areas or on different levels,” explains Issing. Therefore unlimited accessibility is facilitated even when the plant is in operation, which also simplifies any maintenance activities. The extension stages can be easily integrated into the infrastructure of the existing warehouse management IT. Thanks to the innovative design of the 3D-MATRIX Solution®, the warehouse system already does all the sequencing. This means storage, buffering, and sequencing in one single system. The SSI Schaefer shuttles have access to the maximum number of storage compartments. The flexible number of lifts, in return, enables a greater number of transfer stations. Thus, there is not only a decoupling of storage and retrieval machines and picking stations, but also a pre-run buffer of up to one hour. Imbalances in the order and item structure are thereby compensated. All required stock items can be handed over to the conveyors on the z-axes in a sequenced manner.

Advantages that numerous users of various industries were able to profit from. Aside from the German beverage manufacturer Gerolsteiner Brunnen GmbH & Co. KG, the Migros-Verteilbetrieb Neuendorf AG in Switzerland, a US supply chain services company who provides grocery and food services , the US-American food retailer ES3 LLC and the German supplier of fashion jewelry beeline GmbH as well as the retailer Lidl in Germany already use this innovative concept.

“All items in the warehouse cube can be accessed at any time without a decrease in the performance,” explains Issing. “The user no longer has to ABC-classify the stored goods. With the 3D-MATRIX Solution® concept, we have truly realized 3D-Logistics in warehouse organization.” In addition, the number and performance of all the components in the 3D-MATRIX Solution® can easily be adapted to specific requirements and extended at any time. As a result, the plant performance is fully independent of such factors as changing item spectrum or order structures. “The 3D-MATRIX Solution® from SSI Schaefer consequently implements for the first time the requirements of convertible warehouse systems even in the context of fully automated system solutions,” says Issing. “This innovative design provides the users from trays, to layers, to pallets, with the ultimate flexibility and highly dynamic goods-to-person picking, individual sequencing, and long-term value for the investment."

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