Investing in the future
Upon commissioning of the second phase of its building, in 2020, capacity in the expanded logistics centre now total 7,400 pallet spaces in the “APL” (= automated pallet store), 16,000 container spaces in the “AKL” (= automated small-parts store) and 1,750 special-pallet spaces in the narrow-aisle store. This is an example of the effective combination of goods inwards/outwards, consolidation and commissioning.
And this is an investment which will continue to enable Production to maintain the reliable supply of raw materials and assemblies for the company’s subsidiaries, totalling more than 25 worldwide. This development comes as the natural progression of the Company’s continuous expansion of distribution activities to cover global consumer markets.
For more than a decade, now, it has been a strategic factor in the Company’s development to optimise its logistics processes. A crucial prerequisite for the ROI or Return on Investment for the project to extend the central store – and it came to a 7-figure sum – will be growth in the volume of turnover, making this expansion a noteworthy achievement for the Company’s continued development of the Bocholt site.
According to Mr Wilms (Production Manager with BENNING), the main milestones in expansion were the optimisation of throughput times for logistics, the enhancement of process efficiency and the in-sourcing of storage facilities – which, up until then, had been rented – together with a fundamental expansion in storage space. At the same time, it was essential to cut down the costs for storage and logistics without sacrificing customer proximity and service orientation in distribution.
To judge by the figures characterising the development in Company facilities and storage space over the last two decades, the new construction will provide adequate space – thanks to doubling the size of the automated pallet store – to cover the next 10 to 15 years. And the new storage complex has been designed with future-proofing in mind, with potential for further compaction of storage space, whilst leaving a reserve for further expansion: the possibility of a further phase of building has been planned in.
Massive increase in commissioning output
During the planning & analysis phase (which began in May 2019) the project team defined the requirements entailed in achieving the core goals, and encountered various bottleneck issues in the process. The central store was expanded with business ongoing, such that the external stores were replaced and integrated within a phase coming to no more than 4 weeks or so in the wake of the commissioning stage (during the first quarter of 2020).
Subsidiary transport operations and the ongoing in-store and out-store processes are a thing of the past – having in-sourced the outlying storage facilities. Thanks to consolidation and compaction, the number of employees required has been reduced with a high level of automation. This has resolved the bottleneck effects that were suffered in terms of maintaining supply to commissioning areas.
Production throughput times have been cut down
In conjunction with computer-aided processes such as the “put to light system”, the applied management system has achieved a significant reduction in error rates combined with an increase in peak performance. By this means, it has been possible to achieve a marked increase in throughput in these areas, together with effects benefiting production times as a whole. In parallel, the “round robin” procedure has maximised store availability, which means that Production is able to continue to provide supply for the subsidiary companies even when individual aisles are down.
Improvement in CO2 footprint
And there are also environmental plus points in addition to the commercial benefits. Firstly, the fact of discontinuing the transport routes which had previously had to be covered by the fleet of HGVs and forklifts means that CO² output has been reduced, and secondly it has been possible to reduce power draw thanks to excellent thermal insulation and small-sized design. One more small contribution towards reducing Europe’s energy consumption.
„Expansion and restructuring have succeeded in optimising our processes, combined with a marked reduction in response times and transport routes. All of this benefits our customers and ourselves as a company.“
BENNING’s Production Manager
Once the store expansion project had been completed, 15 fruit trees were planted on the open area (5,600 m²) in front, and a flowering meadow was created in order to contribute to diversity enhancement and climate protection.