The main purpose of the Voyager logistics project at ABB Oy, Smart Power, in Vaasa is to create a safe environment for high-quality work in logistics. With this goal clear in mind, the unit set out to implement its logistics project. Automated warehouse system Agilon® by Konecranes played a crucial role in the project.
ABB Smart Power is a global leader in switch products. Its Vaasa plant manufactures load switches, change-over switches, safety switches, enclosed switches and switch fuses. Their applications include uninterruptible power supply systems for solar power, backup power, data centers and industry, for example.
Rather early in the project, our project team realized that an Agilon automated warehouse system could benefit us greatly in achieving our goals
Marcus Mattila, Planning and Fulfillment Specialist serves as a logistics expert on the Voyager project at Smart Power: “Rather early in the project, our project team realized that an Agilon automated warehouse system could benefit us greatly in achieving our goals. The neighboring unit was using the same system and had good user experiences. Agilon by Konecranes is a Finnish product, meaning that interaction with the supplier was quick and easy from the very beginning of the planning. The delivery was also quick: the massive piece of equipment was installed in the dispatch department only eight weeks after the order.”
Smaller possibility of error than with the vertical lift system
Agilon allows for multiple simultaneous users
The differences between Agilon and vertical systems, the system Smart Power uses in its production department, include the fact that Agilon allows for multiple simultaneous users. "The Agilon system installed here has one loading point and two pickup points. Two pickup robots run inside the system, meaning that items can be stored and and retrieved simultaneously, or that two people can retrieve items at the same time. Agilon also has a smaller possibility of errors because only one product type is delivered at a time to the pickup point. Vertical lift systems handle several component types at the same time, which creates a higer risk of pickup mistakes, " Markus says.
Quick installation and smooth implementation
The Agilon installation took only a few days
“The Agilon installation took only a few days, and its implementation began with loading in mid-April. The capacity is around 1,300 boxes, and the system now contains 900 boxes. The number of product types is smaller, around 100, because there are multiple boxes of many product types. The number of boxes of a single product type will decrease, which enables us to increase the number of product types. We will need to load up to 400 product types in this automated system. The system can be expanded in line with future needs,” Marcus explains.
“We receive most of our distribution products and parts in boxes, which are easy to store in the automated warehouse system. During the project, we have relied on Excel to calculate what and how much we should keep in our own storage facilities. We are seeking a balance between smooth production, quick deliveries and optimal inventory value.”
A significant improvement in our logistics
Agilon makes processes and material streams much clearer, in addition to providing much-needed additional space at our plant
Agilon makes processes and material streams much clearer, in addition to providing much-needed additional space at our plant. Materials management is clearer and safer than before. Now we can trust that the items are in their right places. When loading the system and picking up items, we run checks to ensure we have the correct products and quantities. Compared with picking up items from shelves, the risk of error is significantly smaller. Safety has also reached a new level, now that the system is reducing the need to use forklifts. In terms of ergonomics, using Agilon is less burdensome than using a forklift to pick up items,” Marcus says.
“In the beginning, it may seem that loading the system is slowing down reception, because only one box at a time is loaded into the system. However, the time saved will be noticed very soon in other functions. When an item arrives, we already know where it should be taken. Time is not wasted finding free space on a pallet, and picking up is also faster when most outgoing trading products are available from Agilon through a single pickup point. At this stage, we have used Agilon for trading products that are distributed to customers through our warehouse.
Ease of use and nonexistent noise
The dispatch department employees are particularly pleased with how silently the system runs
“The people in the dispatch department were a little suspicious at first. They were wondering whether two pickup points would slow things down and cause congestion, but the system has turned out to be very smooth to use. Items can be picked up from Agilon whenever needed. The dispatch department employees are particularly pleased with how silently the system runs. The pickup robots inside the system are even so quiet that sometimes users find themselves doubting whether their pickup request has been processed at all,” Marcus explains.
User training for Agilon was provided via a remote connection, and support from the supplier is available 24/7
“User training for Agilon was provided via a remote connection, and support from the supplier is available 24/7. Of course, the system will become even easier to use when its users gain experience and skills over time. However, it has already been proven to be extremely easy and logical to use. Based on user experiences, we are further developing the system and our operations in line with our specific needs.”
The Agilon automated warehouse system is 28 meters long, 1.6 meters wide and 6.1 meters tall. Its installation took only a few days.
Summer trainee Tim Weegar quickly learned how to use Agilon. The system has a fingerprint or password identification, and the requested product is picked up based on its type identifier. After the product has been picked up, the system returns the box to the vicinity of the pickup point, meaning that frequently requested products will gradually be placed close to the pickup point.
The implementation of Agilon has encouraged dispatch employees to consider other improvement ideas related to their jobs and ways of working
Dispatch Supervisor Jaana Penttala has noticed that Agilon has also brought about other changes: “The implementation of Agilon has encouraged dispatch employees to consider other improvement ideas related to their jobs and ways of working. It’s wonderful to see how good ideas inspire people and create a common direction for the team. The new workstations still need some fine-tuning, which we should be able to complete during the summer. This is also a good opportunity to clean up the dispatch department and remove all unnecessary items from the workstations.”
Agilon will be integrated into our ERP system
Marcus says an important step will be taken in June: “Agilon will be integrated into our ERP system in connection with its June update. This will further more improve and speed up the operation of the system. The system will automatically create pickup lists. During quieter times, the system can organize products so that the products to be picked up are as close to the pickup point as possible. This will ensure a quick pickup the next day.”