German manufacturer and distributor of sportswear, ERIMA, chose the AutoStore system to seamlessly move 3.5 million products from nine warehouses into one location.
ERIMA, a team sports outfitter and supplier of equipment, has grown enormously since they were founded in the year 1900 in Reutlingen, Germany. The company now employs 250 people, and also has branches in France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium.
They don’t only supply a large variety of different sports teams with suitable clothing, they also manufacture and distribute sports equipment, such as handballs, volleyballs, and footballs, as well as protective sports gear.
As a multi-sport outfitter, ERIMA is subject to seasonal fluctuations in the demand for gear and equipment from those participating in winter and summer sports.
“In order to avoid major seasonal peaks, when everyone wants a specific article, we take care of future delivery orders at an early stage,” says Martin Bielefeldt, Head of Logistics Operations at ERIMA. “We needed a warehouse automation system that could accommodate our changing needs.”
When the company had to move to a central location from nine different warehouses in 2015, ERIMA appointed TKS, consultants in logistics, project planning, and management, to assist and advise them in the planning of this enormous operation.
They worked with AM Logistics Solutions on this project, which involved moving 3.5 million items from the different warehouses into a single storage space, from where the company could distribute its merchandise to 65+ different large clients.
The experts from TKS recommended the construction of a two-story AutoStore warehouse system in order to provide enough space for 150,000 Bins.
“We decided to go ahead with this, as the AutoStore system is a leader in the field of warehouse automation. We could also rely on good performance and support from AM Logistics Solutions,” says Bielefeldt.
The specially designed two-story AutoStore system, empowered by AM Logistics Solutions, is built on a space that covers 2,100 square meters (22,604 square feet).
The lower story provides room for 50,000 Bins, which can be extended to 90,000. The upper level already holds 90,000 Bins, which means that the system can accommodate a total of 180,000 Bins, if necessary. Currently, it contains 150,000 Bins, with 51 Robots running on top of the grid.
The system is made up of 11 workstations, all of which can be used for both inbound and outbound storage.
“We pack 25,000 to 45,000 items per day, and achieve this by working in two shifts of seven hours each,” says Bielefeldt.
He describes the time-consuming old system the company used before they installed AutoStore: “The picking process used to be manual, and employees generated picking lists from the Enterprise Resource Planning system. Those picking lists were sorted at the control board and passed on to the storage people according to priority.
“The people took those printed picking lists to either the central warehouse, or to one of the other warehouses. They then picked the articles and brought them to packaging for authentication in order to generate the bill and delivery notes.”
"The big advantage of the AutoStore system is that it’s fast and reliable. So far, we’ve hardly had any downtime. And the robots work at night as well, while the employees are asleep."
For ERIMA, some of the benefits of AutoStore include improved digital stock control, better efficiencies, and the fact that the system can be adjusted to suit the needs of this fast-growing company.
“This system’s main advantages are that all our products are collected here, that we can control our stock digitally at all times, and that we can direct our employees. This is a major advantage. The other advantage is that it’s fast and reliable. So far, we’ve hardly had any downtime. And the Robots work at night as well, while the employees are asleep,” says Bielefeldt.
AutoStore has furthermore drastically reduced the storage distances for both inbound and outbound storage, adds Bieleveldt. “Our main focus was obviously reducing the long distances in our old warehouses, and, as a result, reducing the staff numbers. Because everything’s now in one place, we can plan and control storage better.”
The company had initially planned for a return on investment of five years for the installation of the system and the conveyor.
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