Tools for metal processing from August Rüggeberg GmbH & Co KG, bearing the logo of a jumping horse, have been around for more than a hundred years. At its main production location in Marienheide, Germany, Rüggeberg operates a large shipping warehouse with manual and automated storage areas. From here, around 6,500 mostly small tool products for surface finishing and the separation of metals are shipped around the world. When, at the beginning of 2004, business growth and an increasing number of product variants made it necessary to expand the warehouse, Rüggeberg commissioned Siemens Logistics and Assembly Systems (Siemens L&A) to migrate warehouse management completely to SAP Logistics Execution System (SAP LES). After a project lasting 10 months, the new warehouse management system went into productive operation in December of 2004.
Parts on the tray
Today, Rüggeberg uses SAP LES to manage an automatic small parts warehouse that is designed as a tray system, as well as a manual high-bay warehouse for pallets. The trays are linked to the material handling technology and are used to hold containers of different sizes. The material handling technology consists of automatic crane stackers, and the containers are moved by elevators and conveyor belts. The shelves in Rüggeberg’s tray storage area are controlled via six bays. The shelves contain around 15,000 tray spaces with maximum capacity for around 90,000 containers.
The 10-bay manual high-bay storage area has around 5,000 pallet positions, which provides capacity for 10,000 pallets with a maximum of two pallets per position. The items to be shipped are picked using the goods-to-person principle. In this procedure, the material handling technology transports the items to the picking work stations, where the employees not only withdraw the ordered products but also place new goods onto the shelves for storage.
Special software replaced
All warehouse management and control activities were mapped in SAP LES, part of SAP R/3 Enterprise. As a result, Rüggeberg was able to fulfill its wish of controlling as many functions as possible using the SAP solution. SAP LES is now used for stock management, capacity planning, tray management, and inventory with associated tray transport. As a tray can hold containers of different sizes and in different quantities and arrangements, as well as with different contents, management of the tray warehouse is a complex task, and previously, the company needed to use a specialist, customer-specific software to master this.
Claus Schmidt, head of Logistics IT at Siemens L&A, says, “We have created a solution for tray management that is based completely on SAP and yet still offers all the advantages of specialist solutions.” SAP LES was enhanced with project-specific functions programmed in ABAP and HTML. Material flow was improved with new strategies for putaway, withdrawal, and picking. “We are extremely satisfied with the solution. We have been able to meet the customer requirement and fully map the functionalities within SAP.”
The optical highlight of the solution is that the trays and their content are graphically represented in SAP. The tray currently in the picking work station is shown as an icon and the container to be processed is highlighted. Another special feature is the automatic screen switch between the SAP dialogs on the picking work station, which does not require user interaction. The screen content therefore always shows the latest information. When a new tray arrives, the employee automatically sees what task needs to be carried out next. During picking, the corresponding articles from up to 20 positions are assigned to an order container. The employees are guided by a put-to-light system, which shows them where an item is to be placed. Complex orders can be consolidated into complete deliveries, packed, and dispatched. This is necessary if a delivery consists of several items that are in different bays of the warehouse and are therefore picked at different work stations.
Productive during migration
Manfred Flemm, head of logistics at Rüggeberg says, “The whole time during migration, we were able to use the warehouse productively. Since migration, we have been controlling the warehouse directly from SAP LES. Everything works as planned, and we are extremely satisfied with performance. If we had to execute the project again today, we wouldn’t change a thing.”
Replacement of the system during productive operation was a major challenge. The implemented functions were physically tested for correctness on several integration test weekends. The complete project lasted 10 months, from start of the business blueprint with the SAP specification through to productive use of the system. Two bays were added to the tray warehouse at the same time.
Fork lifts with SAP RF
The implementation made it possible for all storage areas at Rüggeberg to be controlled via SAP. This also includes the manual high-bay warehouse for pallets, in which shelves are filled and emptied by fork-lift truck. The employees on the fork-lift trucks are equipped with mobile display and input devices, and thanks to SAP RF they are in direct radio frequency contact with the SAP solution, from which they receive their orders. The put-to-light picking system is also controlled by SAP. Orders are transferred via the certified SAP LES interface WM-LSR to the put-to-light subsystem, where they are then executed. The material handling technology and the stacker cranes are controlled by a material flow computer developed by Siemens. The material flow computer receives the transfer orders directly from SAP via the certified standard interface.
The solution at Rüggeberg shows how effectively different manual and automated storage areas can be controlled by SAP LES. The flexibility of the SAP software and the logistics expertise of Siemens L&A have produced a solution at Rüggeberg that combines SAP and automation technology.