Honeycomb warehouse improves logistics processes

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Atlantem, a French manufacturer of windows, doors and facades, used the construction of a new plant to optimize the flow of materials within the company.

For its storage technology, the company selected Kasto. The specialist for storage and sawing technology installed a ‘Unicompact’ honeycomb storage system. In doing so, Atlantem is now equipped with fully automated logistics processes for manufacturing windows and doors, enabling it to reliably supply material to around 15 upstream and downstream workstations and unload finished products.

Atlantem, headquartered in Noyal-Pontivy in Brittany, employs 850 people at nine sites in France. The company manufactures aluminium, PVC, wood and hybrid windows. The portfolio also comprises roller shutters, gates and entrance doors – currently the most extensive range of products on the French market in this sector. In view of the new plant in Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes, Jérémy Jouvrot, manager of Continuous Improvements, emphasizes: “We have created a factory with a high degree of networking. This 4.0 plant is intended as a showpiece for our industry and should serve as a pilot project for the optimization of our other plants.”

Optimization of the internal logistics processes

Atlantem also wanted to optimize its internal process flows with this new building. The company was therefore searching for an efficient solution for storage and for automatic supply of the blanks: “We wanted a central system for our entire profile storage and automated feeding for all of our sawing machines. We also needed a dedicated station that would allow us to prepare orders by picking from multiple cassettes and also sort and store the profiles that come back from our coating unit,” he explains.

Atlantem did not take the search for a suitable partner for this project lightly. To create a specification sheet containing all the important values and select a supplier for the new storage system, the experts visited about ten companies that were already equipped with the various solutions available on the market. In the end, Kasto was selected – due to its efficient and highly automated options for storing profiles. Furthermore, Kasto scored with its own branch office in France and a field service team near the new plant capable of acting quickly if required. The Kasto project team finally recommended its Unicompact model.

Honeycomb storage for loads up to 8 t per storage location

Kasto designed this model as a honeycomb storage system for a requirement from around 400 storage locations. It can accommodate loads of up to 8,000 kg per storage location and can be used either as a self-supporting silo structure with roof and wall cladding or as a stand-alone unit in existing buildings. The high storage density ensures efficient use of space. Fast cassette cycles in fully automatic operation enable optimum supply times for the processing machines. The Unicompact storage system also conducts continuous inventory. For the user, this means an optimum inventory control. Different orders can be picked efficiently and economically. The storage system also features a modular design – modifications and capacity adjustments can therefore be implemented quickly.

In Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes, the experts from Kasto built a Unicompact storage system with a length of 51.7 m, a width of 22.2 mand a height of 16.1 m. A total of 1,504 storage locations are now available there. The cassettes with a length of 6,600 mm, a width of 760 mm and a loading height of 770 mm each accommodate a maximum load of one tonne and enable the storage of profiles directly in the cassette or with customer racks. The energy-efficient operating gantry crane (OGC) reaches speeds of up to 160 m/min in longitudinal travel, while the lifting beam reaches speeds of up to 50 m/min. The operating gantry crane enables simultaneous handling of two cassettes: It retrieves cassette A from one station and transports it to a preselected shelf. When it arrives, the operating gantry removes cassette B from the shelf. It then moves forward by one cassette width and places cassette A into the empty storage shelf. Afterwards, the operating gantry crane brings cassette B to the station.

Modern warehouse management software

The Kastologic warehouse management software independently manages articles and inventory data as well as machining orders. Photo: Kasto

Modern drive technology in combination with the Kasto system software ensures optimum performance of the OGC. Jerk-free starting and braking processes prevent the profiles from slipping when transporting the cassettes. The control of all positions in longitudinal and upward travel is fast and energy-efficient. The system is controlled by the warehouse management software Kastologic. It independently manages article and inventory data as well as machining orders. Thanks to the modern, ergonomic and graphic user interface, system operation is effortless – just like the menu navigation: error displays and diagnostics shown in plain text allow the user to recognise the operating status immediately. A mobile, ergonomic operating panel with a seven-inch touchscreen completes the system and allows the operating gantry crane to be moved in dead-man mode when conducting maintenance tasks.

All expectations are met

The new storage solution convinced those responsible at Atlantem. “Kasto has fully met our high expectations. The system, on which we prepare the orders from several cassettes, runs smoothly and is fully automated,” says Jouvrot. “The control software is linked to our ERP system and was delivered with modifications perfectly customised to our work method.” In addition, Atlantem secured the warehouse management and simplified the handling operations for feeding the machining stations. “The new Kasto storage system has also significantly reduced the workload for our employees,” he added.

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