Logistics: Automated C-parts management with tangible added value

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5 minutes Reading time
5 minutes Reading time
C-parts (i.e. small parts, packaging, operating materials, etc.) often account for only a small proportion of the purchasing volume, but require a very high level of effort in terms of procurement and personnel. They also take up storage space and must be stored in high safety stock levels to avoid unnecessary downtime during peak demand periods. The associated costs are a thorn in the side of every controller. Optimization of processes using the latest technologies is urgently needed – a fully automated, cost-efficient, flexible, and reliable scale system based on IoT (“Internet of Things”) is the solution.

The challenge: A self-sufficient intelligent material supply with all-round service guarantee

Manufacturing companies that have an irregular demand for direct materials such as packaging, small parts, or operating supplies must avoid production interruptions due to a lack of such C-parts at all costs. Then again, inventory management of these parts requires a comparatively high effort in terms of process costs such as labor time, handling, storage and transport as well as unproductive material usage. All of this in turn leads to undesirable and avoidable costs.

Specifically, Würth Industrie Service GmbH was looking for a cost-efficient solution based on state-of-the-art technologies that would ensure a reliable supply of materials while making efficient use of resources. It is crucial for Würth’s customers to be sure that the right C-parts are available at the right time and in the right quantity at the right place. Würth Industrie Service GmbH & Co. KG is an independent subsidiary of the Würth Group and specializes in the C-parts needs of manufacturing industrial companies, serving over 20,000 customers. Würth Industrie Service is regarded as an innovative and competent partner for C-parts management solutions.

The IoT solution: A fully automated, sensor-controlled Kanban scale system

Würth Industrie Service looked for and found a partner with whom it was possible to successfully implement these goals: After an initial kick-off meeting with HK.SYSTEMS GmbH, in which the combined expertise of both partners sat at the same table, HK.SYSTEMS developed the sensor-controlled, fully automated digital Kanban scale system iSCALE, which has since been used successfully at Würth Industrie Service.

HK.SYSTEMS is a specialist for holistic IoT projects: from the suitable devices to the IoT platform to the operation of the networked solutions. HK.SYSTEMS supplies the complete solution tailored to the customer’s individual needs or individual modules as required.

With the development of the IoT scale iSCALE, a fully automated scale solution was created together with Würth Industrie Service. The system digitizes all logistical warehouse management processes, reduces inventory on site, takes up significantly less space and ensures maximum transparency. The savings potential lies in the optimization of processes in warehousing and logistics. In practical use, the key variable is the changing weight of the contents of the Kanban box. The iSCALE system consists of the scale itself, which accepts VDA standard Kanban containers, and is designed for heavy duty, industrial and production environments. Integrated into the scale is a radio module that works autonomously via NB-IoT technology and does not require WLAN or other network connections, gateways or the like. The scale permanently determines the weight of the C-parts in the container, and the integrated radio module sends this data directly to the Würth Industrie Service merchandise management system via the encrypted interface – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The integrated battery ensures reliable use for up to 5 years and makes the scale independent of power connections. It is installed in a robust housing made for industrial environments and is directly connected to the Kanban container and can be moved autonomously.

If the weight in the container falls below a defined value, a message is automatically generated to Würth Industrie Service and an order and subsequent delivery is triggered. In addition, the containers are equipped with RFID chips to ensure their identification and tracking at all times.

The iSCALE system is flexible, transferable, and can be modularly adapted to a wide range of customer requirements throughout Europe. HK.SYSTEMS is the competent partner for development, hardware, software and services right from the start.

The result: A digitized logistics warehouse management system

The fully automated, digital scale system iSCALE is therefore the ideal digital solution for autonomous, virtually self-sufficient logistics warehouse management for C-parts.

As an innovative Kanban solution, iSCALE functions completely autonomously in operation, without a local power supply. Directly connected to the Kanban container, iSCALE digitally reports material requirements from the customer’s point of use to the supplier’s ERP system without delay and ensures appropriate restocking.

The system digitizes all logistics warehouse management processes, enables significant process savings, reduces on-site inventories, takes up significantly less space and ensures maximum transparency.

For customers, this flexibility offers a wide range of possibilities: iSCALE can be used not only in a conventional Kanban material warehouse, but also for supply on the line and directly at individual assembly stations.

The advantages of this completely new system are clearly noticeable:

  • A fully automated logistical warehouse management system replaces time-consuming inventory determination, reordering and intermediate storage.
  • The permanent inventory check identifies fluctuations in demand at an early stage.
  • Compared to conventional storage solutions, iSCALE requires only half the shelf depth previously occupied: optimal for an ideal space utilization.
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