This is where our Operation & Logistics Support comes into play. With the O&LS, we get involved in very different areas: We view the system and the operation in the warehouse as a whole – organizationally, technically as well as the processes – and find the bottlenecks and uncover potential for improvement. The tremendous experience of our team and the numerous best-practices that we have available give us a lot of help in this, because every system is different and needs a customized approach,” adds Christos Doukas, PLC specialist in the O&LS team. The great advantage of the O&LS is that the performance and efficiency increases are usually possible without large construction measures or investments. One example where many small changes made a big difference is the distribution centre of the pharmaceutical company Sanofi, where Michael and Christos were on the job.
Sanofi is a worldwide leading pharmaceutical company, headquartered in France, and relies on KNAPP automation technologies in several locations in Europe. This is also the case at the Frankfort location, where the distribution centre has been in operation since 2011. In 2014, Sanofi approached KNAPP because the performance and productivity of the warehouse did not satisfy the demands of the warehouse. This was obviously a case for the O&LS team. At the warehouse, Michael Wippich, Christos Doukas and the team got a clear picture of the situation. After a comprehensive look into the causes and a detailed analysis of the business cases, processes, articles and internal procedures, it became apparent that quite a bit of improvement could be made in the system performance. “One of the great challenges was to get the employees better acquainted with handling the system and, above all, with the advantages of the automated solution because these should support them in their work. On the technical level, it was necessary to improve the availability and the stability of the system. We achieved this mainly through the correct handling of the system by the personnel,” recalls Michael Wippich. “Here it was often about small things such as deactivating the work station when an employee goes on break. This way, no further containers are diverted into the station which otherwise increases the potential for accumulation or triggers a system error. Organizationally, another employee could also simply take over during the breaks. By optimizing the organizational and logistical processes in a few areas at Sanofi, we reached a performance increase of between 65 and 100 percent, without ever having to make any technical changes to the system. On the technical side we adjusted a few optical sensors and made an adaptation to the PLC control system,” adds Christos Doukas. The Sanofi Frankfort assignment was a complete success. Walter Heider, Head of Distribution Platform in the Frankfort distribution center is also enthusiastic: “The advantages of Operation & Logistics Support by KNAPP are obvious. The O&LS team worked directly on site with our technicians on the system parameter settings during ongoing daily business, something akin to open heart surgery. Successful adaptations were immediately applied to ongoing operations. The quintessential factor was the team’s experience – in no time we achieved dramatic improvements in the operation of the system.”