optimal_mediaoptimal media production GmbH in Röbel is a Fulfilment-Center for the media industry, i.e. a full-service provider for production of audio CDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, LPs, MCs and distribution of data carriers. It is a subsidiary of edel music AG.

Its distribution logistics is distinguised by high dynamics and flexibility. Order throughput time is usually just a few hours from order receival to delivery. The order size can vary from one piece to several thousand data carriers.
Distribution orders for the edel Group are collected in Hamburg, Röbel and their foreign subsidiaries, and are then sent by the SAP system to be implemented through a dedicated line to Röbel. Retailers place their orders via data networking (Phononet). The order pool is accessed several times a day and converted into regular orders of the SAP system. 24-hour service is guaranteed.

The Concept

Automatic miniload with pre-zone
Automatic miniload with pre-zone
The distribution of sound carriers is based for the following peak
quantity structure:
  • Number of articles: 40,000
  • Orders per day: 10,000
  • Packages per day: 12,000
  • Positions per day: 50,000
  • Sound carriers per day: 500,000
  • Customers per day: 10,000

IWL's task was to define a concept together with optimal, specify the performances, support during contract allocation and supervise commissioning.
Productive operations began in early 2001 after around 18 months of planning and execution. Apart from storage and conveyor systems, the warehouse management, material-flow control and picking systems were designed and procured based on optimal's needs.

The Solution

Order start
Order start
Flow racks with pick-to-light
Flow racks with pick-to-light
Automatic packaging station
Automatic packaging station
Dispatch sorting
Dispatch sorting

Goods-received and replenishment storage
Data carriers are received from suppliers and optimal's production. After checking and recording, the goods are sent as per quantity either on pallets to the pallet racks or in totes to the automatic miniload. The pallet highbay warehouse is a narrow-aisle warehouse around 12 m high with a capacity of 4000 pallets. It serves as a replenishment warehouse for the picking areas and for picking of very large quantities.

This occurs either by using order-picking trucks or VNA trucks. The worker uses a mobile terminal with data from the WMS. In the miniload, the sound varriers are stored in covering boxes (boxlots) or in totes measuring 400x600 mm. The miniload warehouse is 12 m high, has three aisles and a capacity of 18,000 tote. Two totes are stored behind each other in each storage compartment.

Order picking
Order picking begins at the order-start stations from which whole units are taken out of the miniload totes. The top articles are brought directly on pallets and picked at these stations. The articles are packed into standard cartons determined by the WMS as long as the dimensions match. The pick information is shown to the picker on a WMS terminal. Further transport of the cartons is in bins towards order picking of A and B articles from flow racks that have pick-to-light displays.

If a C article is needed for an order, the bin is transported on the conveyor system to the upper floor. All C articles stored in shelves there. In order to match the efficiency in this area to the other areas, picking occurs in two levels. In each picking area, up to five bins are buffered. A consolidated and route-optimised pick sheet is then generated.

After picking the article, the sound carriers are individually scanned and allocated to the orders using a drop-to-light system. A 100% check is thus enabled in this area.

Orders are checked using different algorithms after picking is completed. Apart from random checks, it is also possible to check based on client or 100%. This takes place at checking stations on the same principle of a check-out counter at a supermarket. If a picking error has been detected, it is corrected directly at the checking station or the bin is sent back towards picking.

Orders that have received a standard carton at the beginning itself are transported to an automatic packaging station at which the cartons are lifted from the bins, given a packaging slip and cover, and then strapped. Orders whose article dimensions do not match standard cartons or who need special treatment (such as labelling) are sent to any one of 16 manual packaging stations and prepare there. The address label is prepared specifically for the shipping service provider and contains all necessary routing information. A special software module was integrated into the WMS for this purpose.

The packages are buffered on the conveyor system and consolidated order-wise. One all packages of an order have arrived in the buffer, they are sorted based on shipper or tour. By scanning the package number, the shipping papers are generated and allocated. The data can then be sent to the shippers via EDIFACT.