Swedish retailer installs fast picking stations

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
Employees can individually adjust the height of the pallet easily load the goods by simply moving them horizontally.

Winkel GmbH, a specialist in intelligent handling systems, has delivered five of its high-performance fast-pick stations to a major Swedish electronics retailer. The stations enable an efficient, ergonomic picking process with a significantly higher capacity.

The innovative pallet buffer allows for continuous operation, as it reduces the time to prepare the next pallet for loading to a few seconds. The stations also ensure that the handling of goods is conducted with the utmost care. In addition, the stations’ integration into an in-house conveyor system facilitates a streamlined shipping process, thus, saving the company considerable time and money.

The Fast Pick stations are designed with two levels: the upper level of each station comprises a loading table on a platform. Employees at the Swedish electronics retailer receive a variety of parcels, small packets, and trays with mixed goods via the in-house conveyor system and load these onto a pallet provided for the specific order.

As soon as a pallet is completely loaded, a vertical lift takes it downwards, wrapping it with stretch film as it descends to secure it for shipping.

Below the platform lies a shaft into which the pallet can be gradually lowered. This allows the loading table to be adjusted to ensure that it is always at an optimal height for the employee. The employee does not have to lift the packages, which are often heavy, but only moves them horizontally onto the pallet. This is beneficial for the employee’s health while increasing efficiency: the Fast Pick station has a capacity of up to 800 picks per hour per station.

An automatic pallet wrapper is integrated into the shaft. As soon as the pallet is completely loaded, a vertical lift takes it downwards, wrapping it with durable stretch film as it descends to secure it for shipping.

“This provides optimal protection against dust and sliding around during transit for fragile items such as electrical goods,” says to Athanasios Loupas, Winkel’s sales manager.

Patented pallet buffer

One of the highlights of the Fast Pick station is the integrated pallet buffer. This innovative solution immediately provides an empty pallet for loading as soon as the full pallet begins to lower, allowing the order picker to work continuously without interruption. Winkel has patented this system.

The packed and wrapped pallet is fed directly from the shaft onto another conveyor line. The station will then place a new, empty pallet in the buffer, ensuring work is carried out continuously. “It doesn’t get any more efficient than that,” Loupas adds.

Thorough process management means that the error rate of the Fast Pick stations is virtually zero.

The stations can be installed in a very tight space and were easily integrated into the existing production and logistics processes of the electronics retailer company.

With the Fast Pick stations, the company has managed to increase the efficiency of its palletizing, depalletizing, and picking.

“Since installing five of our stations, the client now has a capacity of up to 4,000 picks per hour,” Loupas says. Furthermore, the employees are glad to have much more comfortable working conditions, and the safety of the goods in transit has improved significantly as well.