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End-to-end automation

03 October 2022

Otto Group, a mail order company and one of the world's biggest e-commerce companies, has specified end-to-end automation for its new dispatch centre.

THE FIRM decided on a pouch system, to be provided by Beumer Group, along with a conveyor system and other automation equipment from TGW. An unusual aspect of the project was that Otto Group’s own in-house experts worked together with the two system suppliers/integrators from the outset to design the system.

The operator of the logistics facility will be the Hermes Fulfilment Group, Otto Group's central logistics service provider. The planned building complex will comprise nine halls with a total area of 118,267 sq m. In the new building, Hermes Fulfilment and its 1,900 employees will store, pick and ship goods from OTTO and Mytoys. End customers in Germany will be supplied from Poland. The dispatch centre is scheduled to start operations at the end of 2023.

Key Points

  • Minimal floor space and easy expandability as the system is ceiling mounted
  • 7kg pouch capacity handles cartons to polybags
  • Returns are simplified as dynamic buffering eliminates re-storage and re-picking

The BG Pouch System was determined to be a key ingredient in the operation, with its major features being its 18,000 items/hour throughput for this particular dispatch facility as well as flexibility in being able to handle a wide range of packages, from cartons to polybags; and a high weight capacity of up to 7kg per pouch. 

The end-to-end automated system also includes a Beumer cross-belt sorter, to be used as a shipping sorter, capable of handling 12,000 items/hour and expandable to 15,000/hour. Both sortation systems are designed for easy extension in the future, further cementing Beumer’s ongoing relationship with Otto Group.

The process

In operation, once items have been picked from the pallet and shelf storages they are loaded into the pouch system for buffering and order consolidation. Only oversized items (2% of the total) are not handled in pouches, and Beumer's WCS determines all stock allocation, routing, sortation and sequencing strategies within the pouch system, including integration to the WMS, to bring items from both streams together into a single shipment as necessary. The control system also handles the internal performance of the pouch and loop sorter systems and interfaces with the overall warehouse management system. All systems provide data for Otto’s internal performance analysis.

Returns are handled using built-in interim storage capacity for returned products. This avoids unnecessary manual handling as returned goods can be sent for shipment direct from the dynamic buffer without ever being sent back to the main storage area and without having to be re-picked.

"Increased automation of intralogistics will accelerate throughput times. This will not only make us faster, but also more efficient − to the benefit of our customers, whose shopping experience will be noticeably improved by the shorter parcel processing times," says Julia Hanebuth, head of the overall project at Hermes Fulfilment.

The BG Pouch System is suited for sites that are space constrained, as being ceiling mounted it represents a saving on space for easy deployment when floor area is a limiting factor. Additionally, as a modular system the BG Pouch System can also be readily scaled up when required with minimal installation time.

The BG Pouch System has friction-free flow delivered by magnetic drives and the complete avoidance of energy - and maintenance-heavy pneumatics. 

Otto Group prides itself on environmental responsibility and pursues a goal of sustainability and reduction of energy use – aims shared by Beumer Group. The BG Pouch System strongly supports this goal, with friction-free flow delivered by magnetic drives and the complete avoidance of energy- and maintenance-heavy pneumatics. The use of off-the-shelf components further reduces the need for maintenance. For the conveyors in the system, energy consumption is optimised through intelligent drive management.

Otto Group’s vice president supply chain management Raphael Maier concludes: “We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with Beumer Group with the design and installation of this modern pouch system, knowing that its expandability, handling capability and reliability will serve our new site well into the future.”

For more information, visit www.beumer.com