Universal Manufacturing & Logistics GmbH

universal Universal is one the largest companies in the music and film industry. The production and distribution of sound carriers (CDs, MCs, Videos, DVDs, etc.) plays a decisive role.

Universal decided to construct an RSC (Regional Supply Centre) in Hanover with the following tasks in mind:

  • Delivery of around 90 national companies within the concern
  • Direct delivery of German and nearby European markets

The souind carriers are stored and distributed from the directly connected production (24-hour, fully automated goods-receipt) as well as from other Universal-owned production facilities and by third-party suppliers. The complete logistics processing is also increasingly being taken over by third parties. The main challenge is to integrate two already exisiting DCs in Hanover into one RSC. In a multi-stage, four-year long complete concept, the centres were gradually integrated. All modifications and changes were carried out during live operations in order to leave the delivery capability and the 24x7 operations unaffected.


The multi-level concept comprised of the integration and construction of the RSC in the following phases:

Phase 1: Creation of the physical connection of both distribution centres using carton-conveyor systems for bi-directional transport.

Phase 2: Expansion of storage capacity and the dynamic throughput capacity of the central highbay warehouse.

Phase 3: Standardisation of the complete material-flow and warehouse management systems.

Phase 4: New construction of additional warehouse areas for high-performance order picking of single sound carriers in the fast-mover area and of quick picking of package units (boxlots) in a completely automatic miniload warehouse. Establishment of consolidation sorters of single package pieces.

Phase 5: Integration of the commercial data-processing world in SAP R2 and removal of the individual older systems.

The functions of the distribution centres were arranged newly, old warehouse areas and technology had to be replaced, and the number of isolated applications in the logistics and data-processing area was reduced to a minimum. Due to the high level of automation of the whole system, the control and planning of material flow was of particular importance. The material-flow level was completely newly built:

  • Consequent standardisation of package and carton identification
  • Standardisation of all interfaces and of the controlling philosophy to subordinate control systems
  • Location-wide establishment of a visualisation and alarm-diagnosis system
  • Rotating-stock planning for bypass control
  • Demand-based picking instead of order-based in automatic warehouse areas
  • Individual printing of specific client and shipping papers
  • Storage management of the automatic warehouses on the material-flow level


By directly connecting the production, the sound carriers are automatically collected in the highbay warehouse 24x7. By passing through a scanner, the product-specific and article information are connected to the logistics lable of each carton.

Through continual requests from the commercial systems, client orders are transferred to the WMS (Warehouse Management System). The delivery slip is added at the latest possible time in order to reduce the number of package pieces. The package-piece determination is started by event triggering.

Sequence building is taken care of by the subordinate material-flow system NSP that handles the transport control as well as complete control and optimisation of the warehouse (load-dependent starting of packages, precise consolidation of packages). Order-picking strategies are other carried out in one or more levels. Identification and route-tracking of goods are standardised. All interfaces to subordinate systems are completely and strictly standardised.

The accompanying papers for shipping cartons are normally generated in real time from client-specific and shipment-specific data. Individual layouts of any papers are saved in the printers.

Order-picking is generally carried out without paper. Consolidation takes place fully automatically by dynamically filling the consolidation goals.

After consolidation of the package pieces, they are sent to the dispatch areas. Missing or less quantities are verified at the quality-check stations directly after order picking.

This is subsequently followed by the generation of necessary customs and export papers as well as advance information for the forwarders, more and more via Edifact.


The RSC combines different warehouse areas that have different logistics functionalities and cover the special requirements of Universal's distribution business:

Miniload-type highbay warehouse:
Stock storage for the complete location in Hanover, direct access for large-quantity orders, replenishment for order-picking areas. The miniload warehouse was expanded in 1997, the functionality was improved and performance increased.

  • Maximum capacity: 64,000 trays; 256,000 Ladeeinheiten; 25,000,000 sound carriers
  • Retrieval performance: 720 trays/h; Storage performance: 720 trays/h
  • High space utilisation by building of mixed trays (up to five different article numbers per tray)
  • High filling level of trays by maximum filling of loading units of different sizes
  • Automatic loading and unloading of trays

Order-picking warehouse with display system:
High-flexibility system with flow racks, paper-free picking and tote-conveyor system to exactly process client orders with B and C articles.

  • Maximum capacity: 27,000 different articles; 16,000,000 sound carriers
  • Maximum performace: 80,000 order positions/day
  • Carton transport on tote-conveyor syste
  • Automatic optimisation of picking locations to minimise throughput times
  • Sorting based on shipments
  • Automatic replenishment; secure storage with mobile terminals

Boxlot warehouse:
High-performance system in miniload construction for fully automatic order picking of package units (1 package unit = carton with 25 sound carriers).

  • Maximum capacity: 6150 trays; 43,000 package units; 1,000,000 sound carriers
  • Performance: 2000 package units/hour; 50,000 sound carriers/hour
  • Fully automatic loading and unloading of trays
  • Highest space utilisation by mixing random article numbers on one tray
  • Fully automatic sorting of retrieved package units in the sorter for package units

Consolidation unit:
In two sorting systems one above the other, the single sound carriers and package units are consolidated.
The sound carriers and package units are provided simultaneously and order-wise.

Involved companies

IWL Logo     IWL AG
Hörvelsinger Weg 62/1, 89081 Ulm, Tel.: +49 (0) 7 31.1 40 50 - 0, Fax: +49 (0) 7 31.1 40 50 - 50
Internet: www.iwl.de, E-Mail: info(at)iwl.de
friedrich-graepel     Friedrich Graepel AG Stanz- und Preßwerk
Friedrich-Graepel-Damm 9, D-49624 Löningen, Tel.: +49 (0 54 32) 85-0 - 0, Fax: +49 (0 51 05) 85-20 54
E-Mail: Graepelag(at)aol.com
bito     BITO-Lagertechnik
Obertor 29, D-55590 Meisenheim, Tel.: +49 (06753) 1 22-0, Fax: +49 (06753) 1 22-3 99
Internet: www.bito.de, E-Mail: info(at)bito.de
srd     SRD Maschienenbau GmbH
Untere Wiesenstraße 17, D-32120 Hiddenhausen, Tel.: +49 (0 52 21) 96 97-0, Fax: +49 (0 52 21) 96 97-40
Internet: www.srd-maschinenbau.de, E-Mail: info(at)srd-maschinenbau.de
kht     Kommissionier- und Handhabungstechnik GmbH
Uferstraße 10, D-45881 Gelsenkirchen, Tel.: +49 (02 09) 94 117-0, Fax: +49 (02 09) 94 117-17
knapp     KNAPP Logistik Automation GmbH
Günter-Knapp-Str.5-7, A-8075 Hart bei Graz, Tel.: ++43 (316) 495-0, Fax: ++43 (316) 495-395
Internet: www.knapp.co.at, E-Mail: sales(at)knapp.co.at
plus     PLUS Planungs- Leit- und Steuerungssysteme GmbH
Albert-Schweitzer-Straße 1, Salzgitter-Lebenstedt, Tel.: +49 (0 53 41) 4 40 84, Fax: +49 (0 53 41) 4 92 62
Internet: www.plussysteme.de, E-Mail: plus(at)plussysteme.de
siemens     Siemens Logistik und Produktionsanlagen
Werner-von-Siemens-Platz 1, D-30876 Laatzen, Tel.: +49 (0) 511 877-0, Fax: +49 (0) 511 877-2799
Internet: www.siemens.de, E-Mail: info(at)siemens.de
ceris     Gesellschaft für Beratung und Informationssysteme mbH
Markstr. 3/5, D-30890 Barsinghausen, Tel.: +49 (0 51 05) 51 41 46, Fax: +49 (0 51 05) 51 40 44
Internet: www.ceris.de, E-Mail: cerissoft(at)ceris.de
transnorm     Transnorm System GmbH
Förster Straße 2, D-3177 Harsum, Tel.: +49 (0 51 27) 4 02-0, Fax: +49 (0 51 27) 44 00
Internet: www.transnorm.de, E-Mail: info(at)transnorm.de