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Automatic sheet metal

Automatic sheet metal storage system ensures efficient processes LOGISTICS Gebr. Blum GmbH, a company that specializes in sheet metal working and switch cabinet production, decided to build a new plant in the German town of Hettenleidelheim in order to create space for future growth. For this purpose it invested in modern storage technology. The company now stores sheet metal and finished parts in a Uniline in-line storage system from Kasto, saving valuable space. The system ensures safe and reliable material handling and efficient provisioning of the connected stamping and laser cutting machinery. Hettenleidelheim is located in an idyllic rural setting in the Palatinate region, just a few miles from the German Wine Route. Vineyards and castles dominate the scenery. The town has only about 3,200 inhabitants, but economically it is very well positioned. One reason is its direct access to the A6 autobahn. Another is the fact that it is home to a number of long-established, successful companies. One of these is Gebr. Blum GmbH. Founded in the 1960s, it specializes in sheet metal working and construction of switch cabinets. Its reputation has spread throughout the region and beyond. Today Blum supplies a large number of prestigious customers in areas such as mechanical engineering, systems engineering and robotics. Its portfolio includes individual parts, small batches, large batches and complete assemblies. However, the company’s continuing success created a problem: As time went by, its existing location no longer offered enough space. “When the company was founded, our premises were on the edge of town, but over the years they were increasingly surrounded by residential areas,” says managing director Jörg Neu, who took over the company in 2003. “We were completely encircled. Large trucks were finding it harder and harder to enter and leave. What’s more, the buildings were showing their age and weren’t high 38 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2018

streamline and automate this work,” says Neu. The manager had already learned from a partner company about the storage systems offered by Kasto Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG. Kasto, a familyowned company based in Achern, Germany, is a global leader in the storage of bar stock and sheet metal. “We described our requirements to Kasto and to other manufacturers,” recalls Neu. “For us it was not only important to have high quality and good value for money, we also wanted to be independent of our supplier for metalworking machinery. Kasto took all of our needs into account and found a solution that was perfect for us. That was decisive.” Storage and retrieval of sheets at the press of a button Kasto implemented an automatic Uniline in-line storage system for Gebr. Blum. With a height of eight meters, it has space for up to 686 pallets that can hold sheets measuring up to 3,000 x 1,500 millimeters. The sheets are placed in storage at a station with a longitudinal carriage at the front of the warehouse. When stacks are delivered, employees use forklifts to move them to the system pallets. A storage and retrieval machine (SRM) then automatically takes them to a free storage location. The integrated Kastologic warehouse management system allows users to see the location of the pallets and materials at all times. “Employees enter the material data at the openough inside for new and larger machines.” Thus Blum decided to move to a new location in order to gain additional capacity for its increasing production. New location with state-of-the-art storage technology In 2016, an opportunity arose in the form of a commercial zone on the northern edge of Hettenleidelheim. Together with its partner company WS&M, Blum erected two buildings in an area of 25,000 square meters. The buildings provided a total of 4,000 square meters of production space, enough for laser machining, folding, bending, manual and robot welding, assembly of component groups and production of switch cabinets. The company also planned to expand its storage capacity, but size wasn’t the only consideration. “For us it was clear from the start that we had to make use of new technologies,” says Neu. At the old location, raw materials – sheet steel, stainless steel and aluminum – were stored in a warehouse served by forklifts. Workers moved the sheet metal to the machining equipment by hand – a time-consuming and laborious process. “To cut costs, we wanted to 01 The warehouse has a height of eight meters and provides space for up to 686 pallets WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 2018 39