Shaping the future of steel industry logistics
A senior executive of a large steel industry corporation said that companies like theirs have two big headaches – logistics and energy. Pesmel knows how investing in Industry 4.0, especially intelligent automation, can help alleviate the first of those headaches.
It is becoming clear that as production volumes grow and delivery schedules keep tightening, traditional storage, loading, and transportation methods are no longer able to meet the needs of today’s business. It is evident that many of the industry frontrunners are investing in bringing their supply chain logistics into the 21st Century by investing in advanced automation. The potential for improved efficiency in logistics is great, yet still largely unrecognized.
Throughput up, no errors in deliveries
Companies that have taken the leap into Industry 4.0 in terms of their logistics chain are reporting astonishing results. By improving the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of logistics operations, many have significantly enhanced their business performance. Automated solutions regularly report zero errors in deliveries due to the elimination of the component of human error. In some cases, improved throughput times have helped boost annual sales by up to 15%.
Automation improves efficiency across the entire logistics chain.
Storage footprint cut by two-thirds
Pesmel’s automated high-bay storage solution has allowed many steel manufacturers to reduce the amount of space required for storage by as much as 66%. But it is important to note that improvements in in-mill logistics will boost several areas of mill performance, ultimately reaching all the way through the entire logistics chain.
Train loading and turnaround times halved
Road or rail transport times often account for less than 50% of the total time from mill to customer. This means that there is little to no further progress the rest of the time. This is where the improved efficiency of in-mill logistics and shipping functions can have a positive influence on the entire logistics chain. Reducing waiting and turnaround times at both ends through proactive and predictive operations and intelligent sharing of information has real potential to impact business performance.
Case: High utilization rate of rolling stock
In one exemplary case, Pesmel’s automated logistics solutions helped a customer reduce the round trip time for a 320-kilometer rail transfer from mill to port from 96 to 36 hours. The trains still run at the same 24-30 km/h speed using the state-owned rail network. These savings simply come from less standstill time. Thanks to active networking and data sharing between the customer’s business platform (SAP), Pesmel’s Warehouse Management System (WMS), and the port systems, outgoing loads are pre-sorted and ready for loading when the train arrives. The automated loading process is also much faster than traditional manual loading. Loading 1,500 tons of product only takes 3 hours in total. The scheduling information and tracking of the train cars, combined with a detailed load list, creates the same time savings when unloading the train cars at the port.
Case: Automated load formation cuts truck turnaround time to 20 minutes
Equally impressive improvements have been achieved at mill sites which exclusively use trucks for primary transportation. At one particular plant, which previously had anywhere up to 300 trucks pull up in random order each day for pickup, valuable shipment time was being lost by sorting and loading. Building an automated distribution center alongside the production facilities and increasing the level of automation and data utilization meant that they were able to reduce the turnaround time for arriving trucks to a mere 20 minutes.
These remarkable improvements, which are estimated to allow for annual savings of around EUR 3-5M, were the result of a highly-organized, 70,000-ton high-bay storage facility with four stacker cranes, four sorting carriages, and 12 truck loading positions – all monitored and controlled by Pesmel’s Warehouse Management System (WMS). The system also includes some of the mill’s business functions and predictive monitoring of incoming truck traffic. Trucks are monitored using GPS as well as reading registration plates at the front gate to help predict arrival time and order. This allows for efficient pre-sorting of outgoing loads and delivering them to the allocated loading point in advance.
Project validation through feasibility studies and simulation analysis
An investment in advanced logistics chain automation and Industry 4.0 connectivity is just that – an investment in productivity and efficiency. Pesmel wants to ensure that each project they take on has what it takes to deliver the expected results. This is why they always start with an in-depth feasibility study before executing the planned automation of in-mill logistics and shipping functions plus the desired Industry 4.0 system integration and networking capabilities. A comprehensive simulation is a minor investment that justifies the overall investment and brings peace of mind for the customer.
Pesmel creates an actual 3D-simulation model of the entire production process and material flows based on real and planned operational data, also taking future plans into consideration. The simulation is run using the same exact WMS that will be in real use later. This process helps provide a realistic overview of what can be expected and validation for the project based on real data and analysis. The built simulation model also acts as a digital twin for the customer’s process, allowing for future simulations and pre-implementation testing of new developments.
Investments in logistics automation will enhance the entire supply chain
Investments in automated logistics operations will boost the performance of the entire logistics chain. Added intelligence in storage, sorting, and distribution functions means that companies have up to 40% less capital tied up in products sitting in the stock yard or warehouse. With the right partner, planning of automated logistics is carried out systematically, risks minimized, and significant savings in time and money achieved. Pesmel-delivered systems are proof of successful automated logistics projects that have enhanced the efficiency of the entire supply chain, while offering great returns on investment with a lower total cost of ownership. To tap into the great unrecognized potential for increasing efficiency across the entire chain, automation solutions are ushering in a new era in smarter logistics.