As part of the automation of processes, new packaging machines have been commissioned at the sites in Dorsten (Germany) and Pleasant Prairie (USA), primarily to make the online business of some customers based there more efficient and flexible.
"The new packaging machine allows us to increase the throughput of cartons per hour and gives us more flexibility when ramping up capacity for our customers' upcoming summer season," explains Christoph Brings, site manager of the e-commerce distribution centre in Dorsten/Marl.
"We are also continuously improving staff scheduling and can process customer orders more continuously and stably, even during peak times."
The fully automatic packaging system CartonWrap from the Italian manufacturer CMC was installed, which can currently be used for textiles and all goods not marked as "hazardous goods".
First, the items to be packed are scanned, whereby the process varies slightly in detail for orders with only one or several items. Then the goods are placed on a conveyor belt and fed into the packaging system. After that, all further processes are fully automated. The machine asks the IT system for a suitable open customer order for the respective articles and starts the packing process after confirmation.
For the products measured by a 3D scanner, the packaging system automatically produces shipping cartons that are cut to fit precisely and simultaneously prints the shipping documents. The article, carton and documents are then brought together in the heart of the machine and the carton folded around the product and automatically sealed. If required, the system can also be used to apply customized branding using inkjet printing. The shipping label is then automatically applied to the carton and the package is transferred to the outgoing goods department.
"With the packaging machine, we increase our productivity tenfold for orders with a single item compared to the purely manual process. This significantly increases the productivity of our employees," says Christoph Brings. "This was the decisive reason for choosing the packaging machine, as the pure throughput times are not significantly reduced compared to the previous manual process. We can also pack manually very quickly at present."
The new packaging solution is another important building block in Arvato' digitization strategy, which envisions automating processes and locations through the increased use of warehouse technologies and intelligent systems that fit precisely.
"The concept of the packaging machine was set up from the outset with a view to use at other locations. Another unit is also used, for example, at our location in Pleasant Prairie in the USA," says Christoph Brings.
"From a basic point of view, it is quite easily transferable to other distribution centres and customers, although it always has to be adapted somewhat to the individual customer. A prerequisite for the IT transfer is, for example, the use of the same ERP system."