“THE RETROFIT REVOLUTION”.
Upgrade existing intralogistics systems with retrofit projects instead of “scrapping” them. An article in the special publication “Technische Logistik” (“Technical Logistics”, MM Logistik/Huss Medien) presenting novel approaches to warehouse logistics by Fb Industry Automation.
CUSTOMISED RETROFIT SOLUTIONS FOR DYNAMIC MARKET AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT.
Businesses are under constant pressure to reinvent themselves in the race to adapt to extremely dynamic market and business developments. Developing and implementing innovative ideas and solutions is crucial to their success. For each new internal or external framework condition within this cycle, businesses need to do an assessment. The question is, whether reflexively replacing a working system with a new one is really the best solution. Retrofitting or upgrading the plant is often the better choice. This approach allows for more agility and flexibility in responding to constantly changing conditions.
And this is where Fb Industry Automation sets new standards. “As a growing intralogistics expert, we’re your go-to partner for retrofitting your warehouse, conveyor, and order-picking systems. We’ve made it our mission to modernise existing internal material flows in close cooperation with our clients. It’s time to put an end to the senseless scrapping of working warehouse systems by leveraging Fb’s core competencies. Besides projects for the initial automation of warehouse logistics and plant expansions with individual shuttle solutions, our product portfolio also includes customised retrofitting services”, states Managing Director Werner Frissenbichler.
ANALYSING THE CUSTOMER’S INDIVIDUAL REQUIREMENTS.
In the first step, Fb Industry Automation’s specially trained and experienced team of experts works with the customer to outline the plant’s current processes and data. During this initial analysis, the team inspects the installed components (conveyor systems, shelving systems etc.) and assesses their functionality, durability and safety. Retrofits can vary considerably in scope depending on the current state of the plant. The team reviews various aspects using a checklist and makes sure to resolve any unanswered questions. Would installing a new material flow control system be enough? Does the control technology need to be adapted? Or do mechanical and electrical components need to be replaced as well? Or does the entire plant need to be upgraded with additional shuttle lanes and conveyor lines?
These and many other issues are worked out with the customer and recorded in a spec sheet. Based on this analysis, the team can proceed to map out the next steps. This approach allows the Fb team to prepare the internal warehouse logistics for the expansion plan. This is necessary to realise the company’s increasing throughput requirements. The 360+ project support team is the point of contact for every customer until the new system is operational.
Hans Leersch, Head of Safety Management: “Our goal is to offer our customers the best retrofit solution possible. To achieve this goal, it is crucial to evaluate and adapt existing safety standards in compliance with current legal requirements.”
PROCESS OPTIMISATION VIA MODERN SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS.
Do you envisage being able to map your entire intralogistical processes using just one software system? Is simple usability without complex interfaces or incomprehensible features a core requirement for you? That’s exactly what our high-performance Fb Stash software is designed to do.
Drawing on decades of experience in the logistics industry, the Fb Stash team has developed an innovative software. The expertise was transformed into a solution for material flow control, warehouse automation, and inventory management.
Using AI-based mathematical data analysis the software ist fully automated and self-learning. Thus, it can be individually adapted to complete systemsan tailor-made for customer’s environment (e.g. existing plants) and business development (e.g. order status, picking requirements, throughput volumes, product range).
Fb Stash is located at the software level between the machine control system (e.g. PLC) and the enterprise resource planning system (ERP), the production planning system (PPS) or the customer’s in-house warehouse management system (WMS). Since Fb Stash operates independently of the installed hardware, all third-party devices can be integrated seamlessly. The perfect conditions for your retrofit project.
In close coordination with the customer, all possible business cases for the plant are identified. All interfaces with the existing system can be tested and approved before going into operation. This allows for improvements to storage routes, warehousing strategies, and order picking to be evaluated in advance without requiring additional resources.
REPLACEMENT OF PERIPHERALS, CONTROL TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRICAL/MECHANICAL COMPONENTS.
In addition to upgrading to a state-of-the-art and optimised material flow control system, other system components can also be adapted to meet current technological standards. To ensure smooth and fail-safe operation, anything from cabinet control technology, peripheral devices, and wiring to entire warehouse systems and outdated storage and retrieval machines (SRMs) can be modernised.
In addition to replacing drive technology and sensors, the Fb team of experts can also upgrade complete control components (e.g. CPUs), depending on the customer’s requirements. With the latest innovations and programs in place, the plant is then put back into operation. Besides the warehouse system, it may also be necessary to upgrade the feeder lines and staging areas. Fb Industry Automation always ensures the maximum benefit for its customers. To minimise financial risk, upgrades can also be applied in staggered phases.
OPEN HEART SURGERY.
The key to a successful retrofit is to minimise the implementation period as much as possible (e.g. implementation during a work holiday) or to carry out the conversion during ongoing operation. For example, the entire storage lane for automotive contract manufacturer Magna Steyr was upgraded during 24/7 shift operation. An additional lane was installed while the daily picking orders were being processed. The merchandise was then transferred from the existing system to the new system. The lane, including the conveyor staging area, was adapted and upgraded to the current state of the art. In the process, the team not only increased plant availability but also improved performance significantly to meet future requirements.
GOALS AND SUSTAINABILITY OF A RETROFIT PROJECT.
The goals of a retrofit are, of course, not just to improve processes, but also to increase performance and use available resources more efficiently. This can reduce maintenance costs and minimise energy consumption. Another significant benefit of retrofitting is the ability to work with lower investment volumes. And to optimise the system more flexibly in smaller steps.
In order to provide the customer with a system that performs well in the long term, it is essential to draw up a precise maintenance and service plan. The Fb Customer Service Team has a dedicated hotline for this purpose, which steps in when needed and ensures the highest level of efficiency. Depending on the specific use case, different support packages can be arranged on an individual basis.
As a matter of sustainability, one also has to ask oneself whether a working system should be scrapped after just 10-15 years in operation. Or whether, in keeping with the motto “better repair than throw away”, a retrofit is a more suitable solution. Everyone shares the responsibility of preserving our planet’s limited resources. With this responsibility in mind, Fb Industry Automation is pushing forward with other sustainability projects in addition to its growing retrofit service portfolio. For example, an initiative was launched to add more plants to the 7,700 m² Fb orchard meadow for every intralogistics shuttle sold. These socioclimatic measures create ecological habitats, provide a variety of agricultural products, and secure jobs.
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