Metrica Spa has worked for over 60 years in the market of precision instruments, metalware mechanics and building construction, selling over 2,500 products to more than 2,000 customers. A large part of the products listed are manufactured entirely at the two factories located in Veneto, while the remaining part is made by carefully selected external suppliers.
The management offices and distribution center are situated in San Donato Milanese; here the large warehouse was managed manually, filling the shelves with the products received, while picking was managed using the “operator to materials” method with the help of ladders and two order pickers.
Following a damaging fire in 2009, and because of a need to expand the space available for storage maneuvers, the company decided to redesign the entire warehouse. Some of the main problems Metrica noted were the need to fulfill requests with very short notice and the large variety of goods stored.
The solution proposed by Automha was a warehouse with Autostore stacker crane, positioned at the same site as the previous warehouse and with the same surface area.
Different areas were planned within the warehouse:
• Goods receiving area: here the goods sent by suppliers, either unpackaged or on pallets, are checked and conveyed to the separation area or automated storage area. The separation area enables incoming goods to be stored on shelves and taken to the automated storage within the required time.
• The goods brought into the automated warehouse are transferred to two stacker cranes that run along the corridors, which have double-width shelving with 6 storage levels and a total of 2,969 pallet positions. The three lower levels are dedicated to the storage of multi-item packages, while the upper three levels are dedicated to single-item packages. Since the cells are double width and hold pallets containing different codes, the company decided to make use of night-time hours to perform internal handling operations; the loading units to be picked the next day are placed in accessible pallet positions and the loading units are moved from one lane to another to balance the load on the two stacker cranes.
• Picking area and shipping area: once the two stacker cranes have completed their picking maneuvers, the loading units are deposited on a conveyer system that runs along the entire warehouse handling system serving the picking bays. For the operator to prepare the orders, the system performs the picking operations in order picking mode, making available all the loading units required for fulfilling several orders. In this second mode, orders for different customers can be processed even when the loading units have different sizes. Once the customer’s order is ready, the operator accompanies the loading units using a lift truck or pallet truck to the designated shipment area.
The automated solution defined by Automha has increased warehouse storage capacity and expedited order preparation and picking operations.. In addition, the operator no longer has to handle the loading units during the picking phase, thereby considerably increasing warehouse staff safety.