Customer service and intelligent processes set the pace for the worldwide delivery of replacement parts. We visit the
A fast-mover: What might that be? No, in this case it’s not a six-cylinder boxer engine or its maximum rpm level. The object on the pallet just about to be lifted by a yellow forklift truck is a
We are paying a visit to the
The logistics center sends parts to more than 800 destinations around the world. Depending on the distance, the parts can arrive within less than 24 hours, or within 48 hours at most. “Our maxim is to supply our customers on time,” says Marc Lösken, the managing director in charge of operations at
The logistics center, which has undergone continuous expansion since opening in 2008, now has more than five hundred employees. In November of last year,
Given these dimensions, it does not come as a surprise that the components cover substantial distances by train within the warehouse complex. “We operate eleven electric tow trains that travel a good 420 kilometers a day,” says Lösken. Thanks to the innovative layout of the lines, one train can do the work of five forklift trucks, which only run the short distances between the shelves and the “stations.” To help with orientation, the stations—where the parts are transferred to the trains—were given the names of German cities and reflect their positions on the map.
This fascinating technology accelerates delivery processes, enables ergonomic work procedures, and is environmentally friendly. The electric power for the vehicles comes in large part from a photovoltaic system of 40,000 square meters on the roof of the center. It generates nearly two million kilowatt-hours of power a year, which would be enough to meet the average electricity needs of 500 four-person households in Europe. Additional sustainability features include the center’s own combined heat and power unit, plus a comprehensive approach to avoiding unnecessary packaging material. Over the past three years, the center has succeeded in reducing its use of cardboard packaging by twenty percent. And Styrofoam, for example, is no longer used at all to cushion the contents of the cartons. Instead,
Unlike many small components stored in Sachsenheim, our fender does not require any further packaging. It had arrived from the supplier in a very well-fitting contour pack, and was sent within the logistics center from the “Regensburg station” northwest to “Lübeck.” It is now on its way to “Karlsruhe,” the departure point for outgoing goods in the south. Along the way the train passes the high-bay warehouse for medium-sized parts. This facility accommodates its contents in a structure that is 16 meters high. Yellow forklift trucks bustle along its corridors, their forks moving continuously up and down. The storage principle is based on size, as well as on fast movers and slow movers, which include prototype components for development and pilot production projects, historical parts for
The overall inventory presently encompasses more than 125,000 material numbers. Each of its divisions has a deliberately “chaotic” organizational scheme: crankshaft gears are next to cylinder heads, and door seals are next to driveshafts—only the computer knows what is located where, and it calculates the best possible location in the warehouse for each part. The aim is to keep both distance and time to a minimum when the part is ordered. For medium-sized and large shipments—such as the
On the right we pass the automated small-parts warehouse, which forms the heart of Sachsenheim. It manages as many as 295,000 container locations fully automatically and handles up to 1,650 orders an hour. Carrying control units, navigation CDs, or brake linings, the containers move on conveyor belts from the shelves to the sixteen transfer sites. Express shipments are sent out from Sachsenheim to customers on sixty trucks a day, or to airports in Stuttgart, Munich, or Frankfurt for longer distances.
By Thorsten Schönfeld
Photos by Bernd Kammerer