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The UNICOMPACT honeycomb storage system in use at Atlantem

UNICOMPACT creates more efficiency in window construction

Atlantem, a French manufacturer of windows, doors, facades, and closing devices and gates made of various materials, used the construction of its new plant in Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes to optimise the flow of materials within the company. For its storage technology, Atlantem selected KASTO: The specialist for storage and sawing technology installed a UNICOMPACT honeycomb storage system. In doing so, Atlantem is now equipped with fully automated logistics processes for manufacturing windows and doors, enabling it to reliably supply material to around 15 upstream and downstream workstations and unload finished products.

Atlantem, a subsidiary of the Hérige Group (formerly known as VM Matériaux) with headquarters located in Noyal-Pontivy in Brittany, employs 850 people at nine sites in France. In the 2019 fiscal year, the sales revenue amounted to 140 million euros. The company manufactures aluminium, PVC, wood and hybrid windows. The portfolio also comprises roller shutters, gates and entrance doors - currently the most extensive range of products on the French market in this sector. Atlantem supplies its products exclusively to specialized companies throughout France via four distribution channels. Important customers are the construction industry, building materials trade and sanitary installation companies. No products are exported.

Atlantem has grown steadily since its establishment in 1995. This growth can also be attributed to the acquisition of several companies. To remain successful, the manufacturer faces clear challenges. Jérémy Jouvrot, manager of the department "Continuous Improvements", explains: "Our customers demand quality products at competitive prices. Our strength is to offer all standard products for window, door and facade construction as well as closing devices in all materials."

Industry 4.0 requirements implemented

The move into the new headquarters in Noyal-Pontivy last year is an important milestone in the company's history. The new administration building was designed in collaboration with the staff and also serves as a showcase for the expertise of the entire Hérige Group. Construction of a new plant in Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes in Brittany had already begun a year earlier. Twenty million euros were invested in an area of 18,000 square metres. The company now manufactures multi-material windows and doors at this site. Jérémy Jouvrot emphasizes, "We have created a factory with a high degree of networking. This 4.0 plant is intended as a showpiece for our industry and should serve as a pilot project for the optimisation of our other plants." Atlantem also wanted to optimise its internal process flows with this new building. The company was therefore searching for an efficient solution for storage and for automatic supply of the blanks: "We wanted a central system for our entire profile storage and automated feeding for all of our sawing machines. We also needed a dedicated station that would allow us to prepare orders by picking from multiple cassettes and also sort and store the profiles that come back from our coating unit," explains Jouvrot.

References spoke in favour of KASTO

Atlantem did not take the search for a suitable partner for this project lightly. To create a specification sheet containing all the important values and select a supplier for the new storage system, the experts visited about ten companies that were already equipped with the various solutions available on the market. In the end, KASTO was selected – and for good reasons: "The world-renown company offers efficient and highly automated options for storing profiles", explains Jouvrot. Furthermore, KASTO scored with its own branch office in France and a field service team near the new plant capable of acting quickly if required. The storage and sawing technology experts from KASTO finally recommended the UNICOMPACT model.

KASTO designed this model as a honeycomb storage system for a requirement from around 400 storage locations. It can accommodate loads of up to 8,000 kilograms per storage location and can be used either as a self-supporting silo structure with roof and wall cladding or as a stand-alone unit in existing buildings. The high storage density ensures efficient use of space. Fast cassette cycles in fully automatic operation enable optimum supply times for the processing machines. The KASTO UNICOMPACT storage system also conducts continuous inventory. For the user, this means an optimum inventory control. Different orders can be picked efficiently and economically. The storage system also features a modular design - modifications and capacity adjustments can therefore be implemented quickly.

In Saint-Sauveur-des-Landes, the experts from KASTO built a UNICOMPACT storage system with a length of 51.7 metres, a width of 22.2 metres and a height of 16.1 metres. A total of 1,504 storage locations are now available there. The cassettes with a length of 6,600 millimetres, a width of 760 millimetres and a loading height of 770 millimetres each accommodate a maximum load of one tonne and enable the storage of profiles directly in the cassette or with customer racks. The energy-efficient operating gantry crane (OGC) reaches speeds of up to 160 metres per minute in longitudinal travel, while the lifting beam reaches speeds of up to 50 metres per minute. The operating gantry crane enables simultaneous handling of two cassettes: It retrieves cassette A from one station and transports it to a preselected shelf. When it arrives, the operating gantry removes cassette B from the shelf. It then moves forward by one cassette width and places cassette A into the empty storage shelf. Afterwards, the operating gantry crane brings cassette B to the station.

Modern drive technology in combination with the KASTO system software ensures optimum performance of the OGC. Jerk-free starting and braking processes prevent the profiles from slipping when transporting the cassettes. The control of all positions in longitudinal and upward travel is fast and energy-efficient. The system is controlled by the warehouse management software KASTOlogic. It independently manages article and inventory data as well as machining orders. Thanks to the modern, ergonomic and graphic user interface, system operation is effortless - just like the menu navigation: error displays and diagnostics shown in plain text allow the user to recognise the operating status immediately. A mobile, ergonomic operating panel with a seven-inch touchscreen completes the system and allows the operating gantry crane to be moved in dead-man mode when conducting maintenance tasks.

KASTO has fully met our high expectations. The system, on which we prepare the orders from several cassettes, runs smoothly and is fully automated."

Jérémy Jouvrot

Manager of the department "Continuous Improvements"

All expectations are met

The new storage solution convinced those responsible at Atlantem. "KASTO has fully met our high expectations. The system, on which we prepare the orders from several cassettes, runs smoothly and is fully automated," says Jouvrot. "The control software is linked to our ERP system and was delivered with modifications perfectly customised to our work method," he adds. In addition, Atlantem secured the warehouse management and simplified the handling operations for feeding the machining stations. "The new KASTO storage system has also significantly reduced the workload for our employees," added the manager of the department "Continuous Improvements".

Jérémy Jouvrot is also very pleased with the collaboration with KASTO. "The KASTO team works professionally and knows its job perfectly. Almost all of our contacts speak French, which facilitates communication. Despite the country-specific cultural differences, we were able to complete this project on time without exceeding the budget," Jouvrot summarises and confidently adds: "We will use KASTO again for future solutions for our other sites. KASTO now knows our requirements and thus has a clear advantage over the competitors. Because our ERP system now has an interface to the KASTO software, this also simplifies the implementation of future projects." Jouvrot remembers their last order: "The recent delivery of a UNITOWER system also made it possible to improve the storage and management of the remnant pieces."