Inventory Optimisation: A Lift For Small Parts

The answer lay in automated warehouse technology.

What can be done when things are getting tight? It was only recently that Hebetechnik GmbH was asking itself this very question. The x|vise consultants showed the company how to get more out of their existing space with the aid of modern automation technology.

Hebetechnik GmbH is one of Austria’s leading companies for comprehensive solutions in the field of lifting, pulling and securing loads. From its headquarters in Pfaffstätten, Lower Austria and its subsidiaries in Grödig, Salzburg, the company not only offers a complete product portfolio, but has also made comprehensive customer service one of its top priorities. This means that they not only offer consultancy, planning, delivery and assembly services, but also carry out repairs and the legally required annual inspection of lifting devices.

The warehousing, service and repairs areas are all housed under one roof in Pfaffstätten. However, the tremendous growth rates in recent years have lead to an ever increasing shortage of space: the warehouse is practically bursting at the seams, and an extension of the service area doesn’t even bear thinking about. Dissatisfied with the situation, last year Hebetechnik’s management decided that something had to be done about it. Their goal was to get more out of their existing warehouse and to improve efficiency in the processing of services and repairs.

The task: accommodating growth
This was the point at which Thomas Bale was called in. The x|vise logistics consultant was given the task of accommodating growth at the existing site. This meant making optimal use of the available space for warehousing, services and repairs, as well as hiring new personnel for services and repairs. “In the service area, the key aspect was the organisation of the workstations,“ Bale explains. x|vise tackled this issue by developing a comprehensive workstation layout plan, where the main focus was on lean processes and short distances.

In contrast to this, with regard to warehouse logistics the primary aim was to increase capacities. “In order to do this, we developed a catalogue of measures taking into account general aspects of logistics, and also focussing on improving inventory management.“ In addition to this, the question of how to increase warehouse capacities for small parts without the need for additional warehouse space also had to be answered.

The logistics experts knew that the answer lay in automated warehouse technology; in practical terms, this meant a storage lift. “This can easily be integrated into the optimised flow of goods and information, and in the space parts area enables a huge concentration of stock in the smallest of spaces“, Bale explains. And in contrast to conventional pallet storage systems, the storage lift works on the principle of goods-to-man rather than man-to-goods, Bale adds, “which results in significant efficiency gains.”

Preferred option prior to implementation
Together with the catalogue of measures, the x|vise consultants also presented an implementation concept, which contained various options with regard to the warehouse layout and the organisation of workstations. “Together with Hebetechnik, we finalised the details of the preferred option that the company then wanted to go ahead and implement“, Thomas Bale says.

In any case, the suggestions for optimisation and change were all well accepted by Hebetechnik. The Management Board is already putting considerable thought into the acquisition of a storage lift. And the alignment of the in-house information technology with the process optimisation measures is already underway.