A lot of storage in a little space

Integrating a storage system close to a production area in an existing building is a real challenge. With the Shuttle XPmultiple from Kardex Remstar, manufacturer Phoenix Contact Electronics managed to square the circle. Around 812 square meters of storage space was created for SMD production on a footprint measuring just less than 40 square meters, despite restrictions due to supporting beams.

The modern building complex belonging to Phoenix Contact Electronics extends along the stretch of land between the River Emmer and the railroad line that connects Bad Pyrmont with Hannover. The subsidiary of Phoenix Contact is an internal supplier of electronic components for the group. The internationally operating family-run business based in the North Rhine-Westphalian town of Blomberg manufactures components, systems, and solutions in the area of electrical engineering, electronics, and automation.

A building with obstacles

Space is in short supply in Bad Pyrmont and not just at first glance. In the SMD production area, which operates a three-shift system, an increasing number of SMD reels had to be stored on static shelves that took up a great deal of space. In order to put a stop to this inefficient state of affairs, Daniel Greinert, head of material management, and Stefan Finkeldei, assistant manager of SMD production, began searching for a solution for storing the SMD reels, printed circuit boards, and assembly groups. They wanted to significantly increase storage capacity while ensuring fast retrieval of the necessary parts. The idea was to separate storage, retrieval, and order picking tasks in future in order to organize the overall process more efficiently. At the same time, however, the space available for the new system had already been determined by the presence of supporting beams in the ceiling.

Phoenix Contact Electronics already had experience of working with Kardex Remstar. Around20 Shuttle XP storage lifts have been in use in Bad Pyrmont for years. Daniel Greinert and Stefan Finkeldeinonetheless carefully evaluated all state-of-the-art storage systems on the market before reaching the following conclusion: “There were some highly interesting automated concepts available, but most of them were ultimately unsuitable due to our building dimensions.” When Toni Knöchel, regional sales manager at Kardex Remstar, recommended the Shuttle Xpmultiple, it was clear to both of them that this was the solution they had been searching for.

Niche product

The Shuttle XPmultiple is an automated storage and retrieval solution and consists of two modular storage lifts arranged behind one another with just one access opening on the front unit. As such, this “tandem” storage unit is especially suitable for difficult structural situations with corners and niches. Trays are transported between the rear and front units via a so-called transfer unit.While the operator picks the goods at the access opening, a new tray can be retrieved from the rear section. With the Shuttle Xpmultiple, order picking performance is faster thanks to these parallel processes.

Continuous operation

After a team made up of Phoenix Contact managers, architect, structural engineer, and KardexRemstar employees had addressed all the points on the automated storage system’s list of requirements, a decision was made to install four Shuttle XPmultiple storage lifts measuring 10.45 meters tall across two floors. Three storage units would have four access openings – two on the ground floor and two on the first floor – and one unit would have three access openings, one on the ground floor and two on the first floor (at the front and rear).
Once the solution had been found, installing the units during continuous operation was a complex task. The preparatory work on the ground floor included relocating the workshop, moving walls, and laying new foundations capable of bearing the weight of 62.5 metric tons per lift. On the first floor the order picking operation had to be relocated, all cables and pipes moved, a steel framework fixed in position, and dust protection walls set up. Then the concrete ceiling between the ground floor and first floor could be cut out. After all this had been done, The Kardex Remstar assembly team accurately installed the storage units in the cutout in the building. Finally, fire protection walls were erected on the ground floor, sprinkler pipes installed, and new conductive flooring was laid. It took four weeks to install and commission the four storage units; the entire conversion process lasted around four months. “The storage lifts fit precisely within the building. The clearance between the units and the beams measures just two centimeters on all sides,” says Henning Deppenmeier, project manager from facility management, pointing out the perfect integration.

[Quote] Daniel Greinert, head of material management: “Kardex Remstar had the optimal solution for our building situation. And the projectmanagement team deserves particular credit for itsspeed, cleanliness, and good communication.”

More storage capacity and better processes

Today around 1,800 different materials (reels) are stored in the four Shuttle Xpmultiple units, and the figure is growing by approximately 15 percent each year. The Shuttle Xpmultiple units are currently 80 percent full.The SMD production area ordered trays with a depth of 800 millimeters to make optimal use of the space. SMD reels can be stored flat there, which previously was not possible. Phoenix also had loading equipment made to its own specifications in order to achieve even greater storage density. On a footprint measuring almost 40 square meters it has not only been possible to create 812 square meters of storage space, but also improve flexibility when it comes to the storage of SMD reels and components.
The storage systems are controlled and managed directly from SAP via the Kardex Drive interface. When the new storage units were installed, the existing units were also changed over to Kardex Drive. The advantage of this is that employees now only need to work with one system instead of the two previous systems (warehouse management software and ERP).


Phoenix Contact Electronics employs around 1,600 people at its Bad Pyrmont facilities in Niedersachsen

Additional storage capacity has been created right by the production area with four Shuttle XPmultiple storage lifts from Kardex Remstar

A Shuttle XP multiple unit(background) is a kind of “tandem” storage unit. Two modular units are arranged behind one another. The access opening is located at the front. The trays are transported from the rear to the front module via transfer units

A sheet of paper might just fit in between: The Shuttle Xpmultiple units have been installed with meticulous precision between the building’s supporting beams

The Kardex Remstar storage lifts are over ten meters high and extend across two floors. Goods are placed in storage on the ground floor (see picture) and picked for SMD production on the first floor

The movement commands for the trays are controlled via SAP.The high-quality industrial PCs are manufactured by Phoenix Contact