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Already on the way to the customer the day the order is received

09 February 2018

Construction work is progressing briskly at Harting’s new "European Distribution Centre (EDC)" logistics centre. With a big focus on digitisation and how it supports logistics processes, the DPA & Connectivity Editor paid a visit to the site to see the types of automation technology that will be implemented.

"The construction companies involved are working meticulously together. At the moment, we‘re a good two weeks ahead of our original schedule," says Achim Meyer, Managing Director of Harting Logistics, who is spearheading the €40 million project. With the new distribution centre, Harting is pursuing the clear goal of further improving delivery performance and creating a foundation to increase company growth. "Once everything is up and running, goods should leave our distribution centre in the direction of our European customers the same day an order is placed," says Meyer.

Meyer, along with Sven Düker, Project Manager Construction in the Facility Management area at Harting, recently showed the construction progress at Marie-Harting-Straße 1 in Espelkamp to DPA & Connectivity Editor, Paige West. 

Over the past few days, the steelwork for the 6,900-station pallet warehouse and the two pickers and shuttle consolidation buffers has been completed. At the same time, work is being carried out on construction of the 120,000-station automated small parts warehouse and the picking and packing stations, which were initially designed in advance with ergonomics specialists in the field of occupational health and safety as part of cardboard engineering. "The dynamic warehouse areas and the highly automated order picking are the two hearts of the new EDC. They set the tempo for the entire logistics process," explains Meyer.

Picking and packing 20,000 customer order items daily

The high-bay warehouse provides space for 6,900 pallets and around 120,000 storage containers in an area of 4,500 square meters and is operated in fully automated, paperless fashion. The bulk of material movements between the halls takes place via driverless transport systems. The picking area covers approximately 6,500 square meters. In the future, some 20,000 customer order items will be picked and packed individually here in accordance with customer requirements. 10,000 parcels on up to 110 trucks and vans will leave the European Distribution Centre (EDC) as "safe air freight" or by sea and land to provide customers with Harting products in the shortest possible time.

By the time construction commenced, Meyer had visited numerous logistics centres at other companies and examined their goods handling from different perspectives in each instance. "Sometimes we looked at how digitisation supports logistics processes. At the next company, how the trucks are loaded and unloaded. For other logistics centres, we focused more on the structural conditions. We always did so with the aim of optimally supporting the processes with the best degree of automation and the best environment," he continues.

Harting is also focusing on digitisation at the EDC. "The goods pass completely paperless through the distribution centre via barcode and RFID. To ensure that this can be done with the least amount of resources, energy and machine data are recorded with the Harting MICA, analysed and used to control processes and for preventive maintenance. This enable us to achieve minimum downtimes," says Meyer.

Energy comes from geothermal heat

Environmental aspects were also taken into account during planning. Geothermal energy is used in the EDC. Some 36 holes were drilled for the geothermal facility, with each hole drilled to a depth of 150m.

The future administrative area will be open, a move which is intended to promote communication among employees. "Processes run optimally when the employees communicate," Meyer knows from many years of experience.

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