System from AKL-tec determines dimensioning data on the fly

TRICOR Packaging & Logistics AG is the market leader for heavy-duty corrugated packaging in Germany and specializes in packaging technology, design, production, logistics and services related to packaging processes. With ultra-modern, lean production processes that are centrally networked, the company meets the ever-increasing service demands of the industry as a system supplier, full-range supplier and logistics provider. With the construction of the new headquarters in Bad Wörishofen, Allgäu, the most efficient corrugated board and logistics industrial park in Europe was created on 130,000 square meters of space with a built-up area of 66,500 square meters.

Fully automated high-bay warehouse for precise loading

For the plant at the new headquarters, a concept was sought for the high-bay warehouse that would allow flexible material flow and a storage concept. In addition, information on the dimensions, shape and orientation of the packaging stacks should be collected and evaluated. This data is particularly important since the high-bay warehouse is fully automated. In addition to palletless corrugated stacks, Euro pallets and special pallets are conveyed to the high-bay warehouse and must precisely hit the rails located in the high-bay warehouse. “For this reason, we need a measurement accuracy in length, width and height of one to two centimeters. The position of the pallets under the stack of corrugated board must also be determined exactly. The system should recognize the exact measurement and pass it on to our higher-level system,” says Klaus-Peter Weidenhaupt, responsible for intralogistics and energy management at TRICOR Packaging & Logistics AG, explaining the requirements for the new contour measurement. During the plant planning for the new building, he contacted AKL-tec, as the two companies already knew each other from a trade fair meeting. In addition to the accuracy of the data, the specifications included an extensive measurement portfolio, since the system should record the variety of loading units. The company’s own high-performance corrugator is connected to the high-bay warehouse via conveyor technology, and it should be possible to measure the raw material as it passes through. Once this has been stored, it is transported fully automatically out of the high-bay warehouse for further processing, processed into packaging, palletized and strapped. This is followed by renewed measurement of the dimensional data, storage in the high-bay warehouse and subsequent loading of the trucks. “We needed a system that would record the raw goods palletless and the finished goods including the pallet. In addition, the system must be able to cope with the 6,000-7,000 daily movements into the high-bay warehouse,” explains Weidenhaupt. The requirements are met by seven APACHE conveyors with horizontal scanning of the lower pallet from AKL-tec.

Measuring corrugated board stacks in transit

APACHE conveyor measures and records the dimensions, volume and weight of the corrugated board stacks as they pass through the machine. For this purpose, each system is equipped with two scanners above the 2.5-meter-wide plastic chain conveyors and one scanner below. These record the measured object and transmit the data to the in-house software, which initiates the fully automatic travel to the high-bay warehouse. Thanks to the precise measurement results, palletless and palletized load units can be stored fully automatically in the high-bay warehouse and, in addition, the automatic 3D recording of each stack of corrugated board enables the contour data to be documented pictorially. Only the evaporation of the 70 degree hot corrugated board stacks challenged the sensors at the beginning, because the laser beam is deflected by the steam. A quick remedy was provided by attached blowers, which blew the steam away. “Without the APACHE system, we would not be able to operate the high-bay warehouse. Due to the many daily storage and retrieval operations, manual measurement of the goods is not possible and also involves an increased risk of error,” Weidenhaupt emphasizes his choice, adding that it was the fastest and shortest commissioning of all the systems in the plant. The company is planning another new plant, which will be even larger than the one in Bad Wörishofen and where contour controls will be equally necessary. “The cooperation with AKL-tec was to our complete satisfaction and everything was very well prepared. We can also only report positive things about the functionality and reliability of the system. Especially with our automatic processes, it is important to avoid malfunctions in any case, which has been successful so far. We will be happy to approach the trade show experts for future projects and have a small challenge for them directly: Adjusting and directing the laser beam so that it is not affected by the steam,” concludes Weidenhaupt concludes, smiling but satisfied.