Corrugated cardboard manufacturers face particular challenges when handling cut-to-size and semi-finished products due to the varying dimensions of the unit loads. The goods are transported and stored with or without loading aids. These are oversized unit loads measuring one or more metres in length and/or width.
Corrugated cardboard processors, on the other hand, typically deal with finished goods on pallets. They have the important logistical task of planning the most economical use of space so as to generate the maximum number of storage spaces.
More flexibility for corrugated board industry through intralogistics automation
Automated high-density storage solutions and intralogistics automation along the value chain help manufacturers of corrugated-board and corrugated-board packaging to optimise their manufacturing to meet rising demand. Stephan Bruns, sales director at Westfalia Logistics Solutions Europe, explains the technologies the intralogistics expert uses to increase his customers’ market flexibility.
Corrugated board – the “wave of success”
The "wave of success" runs between two thin layers of paper. The special stability of corrugated board makes it a universal packaging material. Corrugated board of various qualities can be shaped into many sizes and preformed parts which are ideally suited for the transport and protection of products.
It can protect products such as expensive electronic items or everyday goods like food. According to the German Packaging Institute, only 10 percent of the ecological impact in supermarkets is caused by the packaging, but 90 percent by the goods themselves. Without packaging, products spoil more quickly and are more often thrown away. In addition, packaging helps to label and market goods. Depending on the quality and fresh fibre content, corrugated board is suited for high-quality printing. It reduces pollution caused by plastic and replaces a variety of filler materials. Corrugated board mainly consists of recovered paper sourced from fallen and thinned timber combined with starch glue. Therefore, it is usually almost completely recyclable.
The increasing product diversity spanning all branches of industry, an increasing focus on sustainability on behalf of both the consumer and the industry, as well as the growing role of online trade, are opening significant market potentials for the corrugated board industry. For the industry, the ability to offer more individualised formats in various sizes has usually meant expanding the footprint of premises. Storing huge paper rolls or goods with a large surface area alongside the production line takes up valuable commercial space. It is still common practice to store paper rolls, sheets, and finished goods in manual block warehouses.
The limitations of manual intralogistics
The growing demand for ever newer and more special sizes, often also in smaller quantities, poses substantial challenges for this system of manual warehouses and intermediate storage. Additional commercial space is expensive. Ever longer transport routes that have to be covered by forklift or conveyor technology are becoming increasingly uneconomical. In addition, there are intralogistics bottlenecks. In manual block storage, for example, frequent rearrangements are necessary to enable access to certain sizes. This leads to delays in production processes.
Furthermore, the ever-increasing variety of products causes an accumulation of expensive set-up times at the corrugator. The change of paper rolls and corrugated rollers required for that purpose costs time and money. Here, the use of intelligent automated warehouses can act as a buffer to exploit a significant potential of on-time delivery while simultaneously enabling more cost-effective production.
Warehouse technology along the supply chain
As an intralogistics specialist, we have implemented many successful projects in the corrugated board industry. Westfalia Logistics Solutions Europe offers outstanding technologies that efficiently automate the storage of corrugated boards and corrugated cardboard packaging along the entire production process. The corrugator must never stop operating. When dealing with comparatively few sizes, storage was normally a secondary concern. However, today significantly more complex and more automated solutions are required to meet the demand in an ever-increasing number of different sizes. Here, we would like to present our solutions for the various storage types.
The paper roll warehouse
Does your warehouse still look like this? Forklifts with roll grippers place massive paper rolls on a free floor space. For a growing production, this means that this raw material warehouse must increase its size. The required aisles and routes for the forklifts occupy additional space and must be taken into consideration. The forklifts can generally grip and transport one roll at a time. This multiplies the necessary travel paths for storage, retrieval and provision to the corrugator.
The automated paper roll warehouse
- Paper and corrugated board have no expiration date. The exact point in time when rolls are stored and retrieved is not a critical factor. An automated high-density storage system therefore allows multiple-deep storage of a single type of paper rolls. That means that on every level of the high-bay warehouse multiple rolls are stacked in a row and accessed by one storage and retrieval machine.
- Our patented load handling device Satellite® can handle the most varied sizes and loads. The rolls are stored in dedicated palletless storage profiles designed by us.
- Less-used aisles and storage and retrieval machines for each storage space reduce construction and operating costs. When additional space is needed, the automated raw materials warehouse can be height-adjusted and therefore requires less surface area.
- The vertical multiple-deep layout saves space and yet still increases the capacity. As a manufacturer of corrugated board and packaging, you are able to react more flexibly to the price of paper and build up higher stocks.
- Our Savanna.NET® Warehouse Execution System operates the storage and retrieval machines and takes care of the warehouse management. It supplies the raw materials on a just-in-time basis.
The intermediate storage for sheets
Does your warehouse still look like this? The production of corrugated board in various thicknesses and qualities is a complex process. Cut-to-size sheets are temporarily stored in the manual block warehouse or buffer sections throughout the entire production process. That means storage capacity with a high area usage and long material routes.
Automated intermediate storage for corrugated board
- The intermediate storage of half-finished goods for the production of corrugated board or packaging is characterised by a high degree of variety. The many variants are already reflected in the finished products. Piles of cut-to-size corrugated board sizes are therefore ideally stored without pallets either as a single unit or multiple units deep so that storage and retrieval machine with telescopic forks or Satellite® system can grip them.
- Automated storage and retrieval using the storage and retrieval machines minimises the susceptibility to errors as well as the accident risks associated with manual operation. The overall system consisting of the mechanics, control device, and software supplies all half-finished products as required within the production process. Storage space is never wasted. Instead, it is always refilled as needed.
- Additional capacity requirements on a restricted area can be easily met using a high-bay warehouse. Our self-manufactured storage and retrieval machines can handle small, medium, and large sizes as well as varying loads. This is what we specialise in at Westfalia.
- Intermediate storage makes the production more flexible. After conversion of the corrugator, a significantly larger batch of a certain product type can be manufactured for delayed orders. As a result, expensive set-up times are significantly reduced, and production planning is simplified. The automated and scalable intermediate storage makes this possible.
Warehouse for finished goods
Does your warehouse still look like this? Storing finished goods and being able to provide them smoothly for an on-time delivery is the most important job. With the wide range of products available on the market, the demand for different corrugated board sizes is also expanding. Capacity requirements as well as the complexity of finished goods storage are increasing. More and more frequently, manual storage facilities quickly reach their limits. Retaining the retrieval speed to provide on-time deliveries requires more warehouse personnel and forklifts. A higher level of traffic within the warehouse also increases the risk of accidents and the probability that bottlenecks and delays in retrieval will occur due to errors.
The automated finished goods warehouse
- Our automated high-bay warehouses based on Satellite® and telescopic fork technology enable us to store great volumes in a particularly compact, sustainable, and energy-saving way – either in existing buildings or in self-supporting silo construction that does not require an additional storage building. The system makes the most use of all types and sizes of properties and warehouses.
- Depending on the required accessibility, automated high-bay warehouses made by Westfalia can be designed flexibly – everything from single-bay storage with quick access up to the multiple-deep storage of large single-variety batches. Automated high-bay warehouses bundle the logistics in centralised locations and therefore create synergies within the supply chain, if desired including automatic loading and unloading systems for lorries.
- The system is flexible and can be adapted to every size. We can easily connect shipping zones with supply paths for a wide range of order sizes.
Perfect warehouse logistics from a single source
We design and build independent storage systems that can be integrated into existing systems and are easy to expand. This way, the storage systems can be adapted to the market developments. None of our warehouses is off-the-shelf; we analyse the actual situation individually for each customer. We are committed to providing transparent quotations without any hidden costs. In addition, we strive to provide our customers with on-time delivery and turnkey storage systems with sustainable benefit.
We can replicate every storage requirement using our warehouse execution software. Thanks to our in-house manufacturing of storage and retrieval machines and PLC control systems as well as a strong network of suppliers, we offer on-time delivery of the most modern technologies for the entire scope of intralogistics. For the required IT infrastructure, we offer Terra products supplied by Wortmann AG, a member of our company group. As a general contractor, we manage your project from initial consultation to acceptance and sustainable customer service.
We were the first manufacturer to develop the key technology for the multiple-deep, high-density storage of large sizes and loads for different load carriers – the Satellite® storage system. Use these advantages to raise the capacity and flexibility of your corrugated board production to a new level.
Would you like to learn more? I look forward to your enquiries and will be happy to advise you.
Sales Director Technologies & Systems