Unicompact takes logistics to new heights for the steel trade
by Hans Diederichs
Ever-shorter delivery times and fluctuating batch sizes prompted the multi-metal distributor Debrunner Acifer in Birsfelden, Switzerland, to put its logistics processes to the test. The company decided to optimise its storage technology to ensure a high level of supply readiness – and chose Kasto as its project partner. Thanks to the Unicompact 3.0 long goods storage system created by the specialist company from Achern in Germany’s Baden-Wuerttemberg, Debrunner now achieves significant process advantages and ensures that material is made available quickly and reliably.
Debrunner’s distribution centre in Birsfelden in the canton of Basel is Switzerland’s largest logistics centre for multi-metal products. Built in 1953, the site has grown over time and the Birsfelden factory already had two high-bay storage facilities in recent years. A wide range of steel and metals including beams, bright and bar steel, pipes, hollow sections and flat products is stored on a total area of 60,000 square metres. Debrunner supplies its regional companies and end customers from Birsfelden. The company also offers various processing and logistics services, such as material processing exactly to customer specifications.
From the steel trader’s point of view, however, the situation was no longer satisfactory. Debrunner decided to invest in a new, automated high-bay storage facility for long goods. The project targeted the further strengthening of the Birsfelden site as a competence centre for goods handling and processing, saving on transport routes and expanding central services.
Debrunner’s requirements were clearly defined: modern high-bay storage technology had to increase plant security and avoid downtimes. “We also wanted an efficient material flow concept to improve productivity in the customer-specific cutting of materials,” summarises Roger Durand. A request for proposals was then sent out and several were received. These proposals were the subject of intensive discussions, after which the decision makers in the company finally decided on the Kasto variant.
Kasto targeted very fast item recovery times during the development of the Unicompact storage system. The honeycomb long goods storage system optimises the requirements for expensive storage space: thanks to the small approach dimensions of the storage and retrieval machine, users can get the best possible use out of the available space. Unicompact works according to the “goods-to-the-person” principle – the requested goods are automatically made available at the output stations. The Kasto travelling cassette principle ensures that storage and retrieval operations take place in parallel and guarantees the most economic number of travel movements. Fast drives and simultaneous cassette-pulling devices enable the material to be ready at the processing stations within 60 seconds.
Kasto offers the long goods storage facility for heights up to 26 metres and up to eight tons of payload. Storage volume is between 500 and 10,000 cassettes with lengths of three to 14 metres. Debrunner now stores material up to seven metres in length on its Birsfelden site. A total of 2,936 storage slots are available. The 20 metre-high and 40 metre-long storage system is designed in silo form and equipped with one storage and four retrieval stations, as well as seven crane systems for the removal of the required articles. The storage and retrieval machine works with a maximum payload of three tons. The cassette dimensions are 620 x 350 millimetres and 620 x 600 millimetres – each cassette can hold material weighing up to three tons.
More productivity achieved
The decision to opt for the Unicompact 3.0 has really paid off for Debrunner. The new high-bay storage technology delivers the material reliably to the sawing stations where it’s needed. “Now we can already request cassettes for follow-up orders. Response times are considerably reduced and there are no system-related waiting times,” says a delighted Roger Durand. The storage of buffer quantities eliminates the need for time-consuming replenishment processes. Debrunner also achieves greater productivity through the system’s central processing, which enables the operation of multiple machines. Sawing orders from different customers can now be combined if the same materials are involved. Thanks to centralisation, the Swiss company is now saving two saws compared to the past.
Source and photo: Kasto