Häfele GmbH & Co KG, an international company specializing in furniture and construction fittings, electronic locking systems and LED lighting, celebrates another milestone in its logistics operations. On October 6, Minister of Economic Affairs for Baden-Württemberg, Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the new high-bay warehouse 4 and the adjacent goods receiving area at the Nagold site. io-consultants GmbH & Co. KG, a world’s leading technical planning and consulting company, is Häfele’s long-standing planning partner and helping to expand the plant by approximately 15,000 storage spaces. Around 6,000 shipments currently leave the Nagold warehouse every day. Go-live is scheduled for the beginning of 2022.
The logistics center was originally established on the outskirts of Nagold almost 50 years ago. The current major investment to expand and modernize the site paves the way for the next half century of successful logistics operations for Häfele. The first step is to construct the new high-bay warehouse and the associated plant expansion. True to their motto “United to Perform”, io-consultants and its subsidiary io-DigitalSolutions GmbH, a specialist in SAP logistics consulting and optimization, have been supporting Häfele for more than three years now, helping them to improve logistics operations, expand the building structures and associated IT landscape, and shape their European strategy. “The Nagold plant expansion creates capacity for further growth, which is an important component of Häfele’s long-term logistics strategy,” explains Rainer Diez, partner at io-consultants. Besides serving the German and European market, the site is also a central warehouse supplying many regional distribution centers. “Following the successful establishment of a site in northern Germany, we are now expanding the warehouse capacities and the goods receiving area in the south-west. We are proud to have reached this milestone together with io-consultants," says Johannes Wünsch, a construction project manager at Häfele working in logistics planning and control.
The Nagold dispatch center was originally constructed in 1974 and has undergone continuous expansion and automation in the intervening years. Today, it consists of three automated high-bay warehouses and additional manual storage areas providing a total of more than 100,000 storage spaces.
Successive conversion of logistics processes
io-consultants, as lead consultant in project management, logistics, construction and IT, is taking on the entire planning, from the initial concept to detailed planning and awarding contracts, up to implementation and go-live. All work will be carried out during ongoing operations without affecting Häfele’s day-to-day business, which calls for meticulous migration planning. “One of the main challenges of this project is that everything has to be integrated into Häfele’s existing building and logistical structures. This applies not only to the new warehouse buildings, but also to process design. Our long-standing partnership with Häfele gives us a deep understanding of how they work – together with our experience gained from many other projects, this has been of great benefit throughout this project,” says Simon Löwisch, Project Manager and Senior Consultant at io-consultants.
Simultaneously to expanding the logistics capacities, the first step is being taken towards gradually converting the logistics processes. Goods-to-person picking, for example, will be standard in the warehouse in future. The planned high-bay warehouse with around 15,000 storage spaces and seven aisles will mean shorter walking distances and more ergonomic workplaces. In the extended goods receiving area, incoming goods will be collected by automation, and then allocated and stored in the high-bay warehouse via the pallet conveyor system. The conveyor system will connect the two existing high-bay warehouses with the new one. Pallets will be retrieved and returned for picking on the other side of the high-bay warehouse, and transported on an electric floor conveyor from the high-bay pre-zone to the picking workstations. Goods will be removed from the pallets at the picking workstation according to order, and placed on transfer racks for the next processing stage. Negative order-picking will also be possible.
Another major challenge was designing the conveyor routes and the picking workstations. The new conveyor technology has to dovetail with the upstream automated pallet supply and downstream manual processes at the pick-and-place workstations to benefit the new process. The system is designed so that it can be expanded step-by-step at a later date if and as required. This applies to the warehouse and conveyor technology as well as the picking workstations, which will be integrated into the existing logistic consolidation and packaging processes to begin with. Potential future changes have already been taken into consideration during redesign.
The plant expansion is scheduled to go live in early 2022. The company Leonard Weiss was selected to carry out the construction work, and swisslog will handle the logistics.