UNITOWER at Werner Weitner

Handling steps and inventory reduced by half.

Werner Weitner GmbH, the mechanical engineering specialist, located in Bavaria, decided to centralise a large part of its production in a newly constructed hall to streamline its production and logistics processes. The raw materials storage should also be updated in the process. With two tower storage systems from the UNITOWER series, KASTO provided a solution that not only saves time and space and but is both ergonomic and economical.

"What we see here was not long ago distributed across several halls on our site", explains Heinz Weitner, CEO of Werner Weitner GmbH, with visible pride during a tour through the company's new production and storage hall. Everything is bright, tidy, clean and relatively calm – a pleasant working atmosphere. The hall is the gem of the "Weitner Engineering World" – expresses the specialist for mechanical engineering and workshop equipment when referring to its headquarters in Eichstätt, located in Upper Bavaria. Founded in 1968 as a metal construction business, Werner Weitner has become a sought-after partner in the international automobile industry and medical technology. With around 250 employees, the company manufactures primarily special tools that are used, for instance, in authorised workshops for numerous automobile manufacturers.

Organic growth requires logistics

To achieve this, Werner Weitner always relies on an extensive pool of machinery. However, due to spatial conditions, the machinery was located up until now in different surrounding buildings. "We grew organically and expanded our capacities gradually." Heinz Weitner reported. It became more and more of a logistical challenge: "The effort needed to transport the required parts and materials back and forth between the individual process steps became very cumbersome over time." As a result, the company decided to centralise most of its process chain into a hall specially designed for this purpose.

The manufacturing engineer primarily processes steel and various alloys in its production plant; however, it also works with aluminium and resins. Its portfolio ranges from prototype manufacturing through to large-scale series. "Because of this, we have a large variety of materials which requires the corresponding warehouse capacities", stated Heinz Weitner. "After all, our customers expect short delivery times and high product availability." To meet these expectations, the company orders many materials in larger quantities allowing it to respond quickly, if necessary.

"Weitner 4.0": The path to a more efficient future

In the past, Werner Weitner used various manually operated warehouse areas to store raw material – however, this lead to extremely inefficient handling: "Moving goods in and out of storage and the transport to the various metal-cutting machines required a lot of time and workforce." explains Florian Winhard, the Sawmill Department Manager. The automation of the storage technology was also to be included within the construction of the new hall. "This decision was part of our internal project, 'Weitner 4.0', with the objective to improve all processes within the company sustainably for the future," added Daniel Miehling from Controlling and IT at Werner Weitner.

When looking for a partner for this endeavour, KASTO Maschinenbau soon became the obvious choice. Weitner supported this decision by explaining, "For many years, we have relied on this manufacturer for sawing technology and are extremely satisfied." "We were also aware that KASTO also provides automated storage systems for bar stock and metal sheets. Therefore, we sat down together to find a solution to our requirements."

Compact tower storage systems for raw material of up to 6 meters in length

To optimise the material flow in the new hall as efficiently as possible, KASTO recommended installing two tower storage systems from the UNITOWER series. The UNITOWER 1.0 is suitable for retrieving bar stock of up to three meters in length, whereas the UNITOWER 2.0 is ideal for retrieving materials of up to six meters in length. Both are freestanding dual towers. With 52 and respectively 41 cassettes, the storage systems provide ample space for the raw material inventories from Werner Weitner – and all that while maintaining a minimal footprint. "The tower storage systems make maximum use of the available space," finds Florian Winhard. "Compared to our previous warehouse area, everything is now more compact, orderly and clearly arranged."

The location of the products in the individual cassettes is electronically stored in the warehouse management system. It is connected via an individually customised standard interface to the ERP software proALPHA used at Werner Weitner. It is operated either via a control panel directly at the storage system or via a mobile hand-held unit. Based on the principle, "materials to operator", an operating gantry crane (OGC) supplies the necessary cassettes fully automatically to the respective output station. Weitner is pleased to report, "The workflow is now significantly more ergonomic, and assignment errors have been virtually eliminated." The short access times of the UNITOWER enable the company to process pending orders quickly.

Delivered, cut, stored

A swiveling frame bandsaw from the series KASTOmicut E 4.6 is located between the towers' two storage stations. The bandsaw is designed for crosscuts and mitre cuts of tubing, profiles, and solid material – and it mainly fulfils one task at Werner Weitner: "Our materials are generally delivered with a length of six meters", explains Winhard. "We use this saw to cut all products that are only needed with a maximum of three meters in length and then store them in the smaller UNITOWER 1.0." The distance saved through the sawmill pays off with the extensive range of materials from Werner Weitner and significantly increases the efficiency of the storing process.

The sawmill also received a central location in the new hall to complete all other sawing tasks quickly. The pool of machinery comprises six other models from KASTO – most of which are from the universal bandsaw machine series KASTOwin. "Before starting the new build, our saws were also distributed across the premises – which caused unnecessary distances", recalls Winhard. "We were able to improve this situation and also replace three saws so that now we are state-of-the-art equipped and well-positioned." The KASTOwin machines are suitable for a variety of materials and dimensions. For particular challenges, the employees also have the high-performance bandsaws KASTOwin pro at their disposal. "We have been satisfied with the saws from KASTO for many years, and we are impressed again and again with each new model which offers solid performance and a high range of functions", emphasises Heinz Weiner, CEO.

Storage and sawing technology from one company

Since the end of 2019, the new hall is in operation together with the storage and sawing technology. Approximately 45 cassettes per day are moved on average in the storage system; in total, around 5000 procedures took place to date. "In the past, one material runs through up to eight handling steps on the way to the finished cut piece", calculates Weitner. "Thanks to the tower storage systems and more efficient organisation, we were able to reduce this number by half – we save a lot of time and workforce." The company could even reduce the storage inventory of raw material by more than half due to the centralization – as a result, less capital is tied up, and more room for value-adding activities is available. "The biggest benefit of the collaboration with KASTO is that we obtained everything from one company, and we were provided competent support even with the integration of the hardware and software and saws into our production flow, " exclaimed Daniel Miehling. "Thanks to the comprehensive and easy-to-understand training, our employees did not have any reservations with the new technology and could operate it without difficulty."

The responsible parties at Werner Weitner emphasise that virtually no malfunctions occurred with the UNITOWER storage systems since the start-up – and if malfunctions would arise, the KASTO experts from the headquarters in Achern located in Baden can service the machines remotely and eliminate errors quickly and easily. Weitner sums it up by saying, "KASTO not only provides high product quality, but the service is also excellent." "We have more than enough reasons to collaborate in the future – and not only because we pursue a one-supplier-strategy for each type of machine. KASTO supports our endeavour to make our company efficient and secure for the future."