Poland is by far the largest production location for white goods in Europe. Practically all major national and international manufacturers operate their own plants in the country. Almost the entire production output is exported, the main destinations include Germany with 25 per cent of the goods produced, followed by Great Britain, France, Italy and Sweden. Each year, the production lines of the 30 specialised factories in Poland turn out some 15 million washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and electric cookers. Added to these are smaller kitchen appliances such as food mixers, microwave ovens, and kettles which find a home in the kitchens and utility rooms of customers across Europe.
The domestic market leader in Poland, Amica S.A., established in 1945 and now one of the largest companies listed on the Warsaw stock exchange, has invested more than most in recent years in the expansion of its production and warehousing capacities. The company is not only a key player in the Polish market – Amica appliances can be found in more than half of Polish households – it operates in more than 50 countries worldwide. In the major export markets, Amica sells its products under the brand names Amica, GRAM, Hansa and CDA, primarily in electrical and DIY stores. The Group employs more than three thousand people.
Given the dynamic increase in production and sales capacities, Amica decided to invest in the expansion of the production and warehousing facilities at its headquarters in Wronki near the city of Poznań.
The brand name has been familiar to football fans for some time now, due to the sponsoring of football clubs such as AMICA Wronki or, more recently, LECH Poznań, and also through the sponsoring of one of the world’s top tennis players, Agnieszka Radwańska. Now Amica has also become a top brand among logistics experts, with its state-of-the-art high-bay warehouse which is the tallest in Poland.
Amica invested 60 million Polish zloty (approximately €14 million) in the new, fully automatic high‑bay warehouse. The facility was commissioned in September 2017. The five-aisle warehouse, 136 metres long and 44 metres wide, has space for 25,760 pallets. It has storage capacity for some 230,000 electrical devices. The warehouse is used to store large products – built-in ovens, washing machines, dishwashers, washer-dryers – and also smaller devices such as hobs and extractor hoods. The plant premises with the clearly visible AMICA emblem has become a symbol of the major investment the company has made in the Wronki location.
The dimensions of the plant may be extreme, but the decision-making process that led to it was short and clear. Amica managed the project itself without engaging a general contractor. Within a few weeks, the decision was made to opt for Kardex Mlog to supply the storage and retrieval machines and the related software. A delegation from Amica, who wanted to have a look at the steel racking installed at a major company in southwestern Germany, were very impressed by the storage and retrieval machines they saw there – and also by the scale of the machines, approximately 43 metres high. Straight away, the delegation recognised the potential for expansion of their logistics centre in Wronki. There are very few manufacturers who have the capability to produce storage and retrieval machines of this size. Kardex Mlog develops and manufactures the machines to completion at its premises in southern Germany and is therefore able to “scale the dimensions without compromising on quality”, says Hartmut Schaffroth, design and manufacturing manager at Kardex Mlog. When the Amica representatives heard the German operator of the storage and retrieval machines speak of his satisfaction with the machines, the decision was made and, just two months later, Kardex Mlog received the order from Poland to supply and deliver at least five machines of type MTwin, with a height of 45.2 metres each – a new record for Kardex Mlog. The company was also commissioned to supply the pallet conveying technology, the material flow control, and the warehouse management system.
Each SRM is equipped with two load-handling devices with a load capacity of 2 x 550 kg for double-deep storage – a combination that is only feasible with a two-column device such as the MTwin. This design principle enables storage and retrieval to be carried out efficiently and requires a minimum of space. Large products, such as built-in ovens, are moved as loose packages with four, eight or twelve products per pallet. Smaller products, such as hobs, extractor hoods or replacement parts, can be packed in stacks of from ten to several dozen articles, as long as the limiting external dimensions of the load are complied with.
With a throughput of approx. 18 combinations per SRM, in which the pallets are stored and retrieved, this means a top system performance of 160 pallets (retrieval) and 120 pallets (storage) per hour. The SRM is controlled by the material flow computer and the warehouse management in the Kardex Mlog Control Center (MCC) which is connected to the company’s SAP system. The article master, which is available via the SAP system, is supplemented with internal characteristics in the MCC and is adjusted there to enable control of the material flow. The connection is made via interfaces including LE‐IDW “Integration of a Decentralized Warehouse Management System”.
In addition to the automatic warehouse, additional manual, high-bay storage areas and block areas in picking and loading are also integrated in the control computer.
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