Product type: Storage system
Industry: Non-ferrous metal distributor
Country: Germany

Unigrip 3.0 by KASTO – fast access for metal wholesalers

The increased demand in the cut-to-size sheet segment was really making storage space tight at AMCO Metall Service GmbH’s premises, so the Bremen-based company was searching for a new storage solution – and KASTO came to the rescue. The specialist company from Achern in Baden, Germany installed a Unigrip 3.0 long goods storage system. Since then, AMCO has enjoyed increased productivity and fast access to materials and finished parts.

In 1980, a group of experts founded AMCO Metall Service GmbH with the aim of reliably supplying commercial customers with semi-finished products made of non-ferrous (NF) metals. Today, the company has 270 employees and an annual turnover of around €100 million. Each year, AMCO supplies 25,000 tons of non-ferrous metals to customers in the mechanical & plant engineering, metal processing & construction and transportation & shipbuilding sectors. The company’s main sales regions are Germany, France, Austria and the Netherlands.

7,000 tons of materials made of brass, copper, aluminium and bronze are permanently stored on an area of 55,000 m². The company’s business is based on the NF metal trade, cast sheet production and CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) machining. Bars, profiles, plates and sheets are cut to size in the Service Centre in accordance with customer requirements. Low-stress cast sheets which are challenging to handle are produced in various thicknesses and dimensions. AMCO has a modern machine park with various sawing centres, as well as 3- and 5-axis machining centres, and the company also offers CAD/CAM-supported finishing.

Space had become scarce

The positive business development in the parts pre-cutting and order picking segments presented AMCO with a new challenge: “We needed additional storage space to expand this growth segment. We also needed to renew our shelving technology,” says Jan Hendrik Schmidt, Managing Director of AMCO. The requirements were clearly defined: The new solution had to ensure high availability and make efficient use of the available space. Processing and picking also had to be linked to the system. Material damage caused by handling and storage had to be avoided and the AMCO decision makers also wanted to reduce the unit picking costs per order item.

The Bremen-based company found a suitable project partner some 600 kilometres further south in Germany. However, KASTO certainly wasn’t an unknown entity for AMCO, because since 2013 the metal specialist company has been using a Unicompact 3.0 long goods storage system with which AMCO is 100% satisfied – and there have also been very productive contacts between the two companies for sawing technology, another KASTO mainstay. KASTO also had other advantages: “We were very enthusiastic about KASTO’s impressive depth of added value compared to their competitors.  It covers a wide range from software development to the supply of spare parts. The KASTO employees also gave us very competent advice before we placed the order,” explains Jan Hendrik Schmidt. Existing and proven interfaces also ensured simple integration into AMCO’s ERP system.

1,365 new storage cassettes

After the contract was awarded in October 2016, the steel structure was delivered and assembled in June 2017 – and five months later, AMCO accepted the storage facility. KASTO built its Unigrip 3.0 in Bremen with a length, width and height of 68, 21+ and 6.7 metres respectively. Five cassette types are available with lengths from 6.5 to 6.7 metres and a width of 1.6 metres. The load per cassette is three tons. AMCO now has a total of 1,365 new storage locations. The storage and retrieval machine (SRM) has a particularly streamlined design and travels longitudinally at speeds of between 2 and 120 metres per minute. It has laser measuring systems for precise position detection. Contour controls ensure that no goods protrude, which would hinder a smooth process.

The KASTOlogic control concept is based on consistent decentralisation. The linking of all the components such as drive controllers, manual control units and weighing electronics is carried out via the standard Profibus DP fieldbus. AMCO can create or change article data quickly and easily and receives reliable information on inventories and cassette availability. Storage zones can be managed accordingly, to optimise the SRM’s travel routes, for instance. Incoming orders are automatically assigned to the relevant processing stations. The Unigrip storage facility is used for equipping saws with sheets and remnants in accordance with the cutting plans and also for storing pre-cut parts and remnants after sawing. For the picking of customer orders, the storage system then makes sheets and cut-to-size parts available on an order-related basis. For fast fault diagnosis and help with operating problems, the KASTO Service Centre has access to the storage facility at all times via KASTO Remote Assistance. The Centre uses the Remote Desktop Protocol to remotely control all functions of the KASTOlogic. Changes to the program or parameters can be carried out cost-effectively, without the need for KASTO staff on site.

A rewarding investment

For AMCO, the investment in the KASTO solution has paid off handsomely. “Our goals and expectations have been fully met. Materials and finished parts are logically stored and access is fast and reliable,” says Jan Hendrik Schmidt. The storage facility perfectly fulfils its function as a buffer for finished pre-cut parts. Schmidt is also pleased about other process advantages. “Damage is now largely ruled out during transport or handling of the material,” he says. AMCO was also able to significantly reduce its fleet of forklift trucks, as the storage system independently provides the required materials at the right place at the right time.

The cooperation with the KASTO employees was also very positive. “Optimisations and adjustments take place continuously and are efficiently supported by KASTO,” praises Jan Hendrik Schmidt. Technical optimisations in the running-in phase were quickly and fully completed. The new storage system went into operation promptly at AMCO “because the cooperation at the operational level was very good.”