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Pick-to-light technology for efficient picking - Simtek Präzisionswerkzeuge GmbH implements PROLAG®World


This winter, Simtek Präzisionswerkzeuge GmbH went live with CIM’s warehouse management system PROLAG®World for optimal management of their precision tools. The software stores 40,000 small parts in pallet and shuttle storage systems and controls access to the articles in the shuttle towers using pick-to-light technology. Optimal control of the shuttles means that warehouse employees can pick from both towers in parallel – reducing waiting times considerably.

In the short time since implementing PROLAG®World, Simtek has noted a high level of stock reliability combined with efficient warehouse transactions plus fast and easy picking thanks to the pick-to-light system.

In the course of building a new hall and installing two new Kardex shuttles in spring 2013, Simtek in Mössingen, Germany, decided to implement a new warehouse management solution. “It was important to us that our new Kardex shuttles could be steered using a warehouse management system. CIM was the only software house which could offer us a complete, standardised Kardex connection. That’s why we opted for PROLAG®World”, explains Bernd Ganter, managing director of Simtek. Using the two shuttle lifts drastically optimises storage density: The 12-metre-high shuttles store 30,000 precision tools for turning, milling and machining. The lifts are fully integrated into general warehouse operations. PROLAG®World’s forklift routing system guides warehouse employees through all the relevant storage transactions with route optimisation using RF terminals – short-range devices with touch screens and 2D barcode scanners. Simtek stocks a total of 40,000 items for retrieval and further processing. The article master in PROLAG®World stores data on 47,000 different articles.

Picking from shuttles using pick-to-light technology

The retrieval process is order-based. The retrieval list transferred by the host system is pre-sorted by PROLAG® by recipient. Picking orders with the same recipient are picked into the same container. For fast and easy goods access, light pointers attached to the shuttles signal the exact location of the pick item within the tray. The light pointers are controlled by the warehouse management software in conjunction with the positioning of the trays. “By controlling the pick-by-light system, the software clearly indicates what quantity of an article to pick, without the need for additional monitoring. This is extremely important for us: It makes picking easier for our employees, and access to the products is quick and secure”, continues Mr. Ganter.
An additional benefit of PROLAG®World steering the shuttle systems is that processes are accelerated enabling high-speed picking: PROLAG®World anticipates the next picking items, and the employee picks small parts from one of the shuttles while the lift prepares the tray with the next item to be picked. The employee switches shuttles and picks the items while the next shuttle lift is brought into position with the relevant tray.
PROLAG®World distributes the articles evenly between the two shuttles at storage: consequently, articles can be picked from both lifts simultaneously.

Packing area

The warehouse employees transport the picked articles to the packing area where the articles are repacked into boxes for dispatch. Once the contents of the boxes have been manually checked, PROLAG®World triggers printing of the packing labels, delivery notes and checking labels. The articles are dispatched using UPS and WorldShip.

Software architecture

PROLAG®World is programmed in Java. Simtek uses an SQL database and the host system, Navision, is connected to the warehouse management software over an interface.

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