Nolte Küchen (Kitchens) driving smart

10.03.2017 - Efficient, precise, ergonomic: As one of the leading German kitchen manufacturers, Nolte Küchen fully relies on AGVs (automated guided vehicles) from Grenzebach. High-end kitchen fronts made from various materials such as glass, varnish and real wood veneer, individually commissioned for modern kitchens, require efficient, ergonomic and flawless handling at all times.

In the Lower Saxony City of Melle, Nolte Küchen constructed a new commissioning warehouse with 22,000 picking stations and 20,000 picks per day. For this special application, Grenzebach has developed AGVs as standardized front end transporters. The economic effect when using 12 driverless transport vehicles is obvious: Reduction of the error rate, improved ergonomics, as well as significantly increased productivity during front picking.

When and where can you locate the different fronts?  In order to make this work, the Nolte material flow computer and the Grenzebach Fleet Manager communicate digitally. At Nolte, Industry 4.0 and HRC (Human-robot collaboration) work hand in hand.

How order picking of kitchen modules is done today: The AGV autonomously drives to pick up a front end transport cart to then continue to the warehouse where it is received by a Nolte staff member. From here on the AGV and the staff member work as a Man-Machine-Team. The AGV is programmed to automatically stop at the intended picking location within the order picking aisle and signals with its laser light which front the employee has to pick from the rack (pick-to-light procedure). Further information about the front will be displayed on the AGV screen.

The put-to-light procedure tells the employee where exactly to deposit the front on the transport cart. The whole commissioning process is laid out to where it follows the sequence in which the front will be needed in the final installation of the kitchen. The built-in printer creates the matching label which the employee sticks onto the kitchen front.

The same principle is being applied when picking prefabricated fronts. The laser light illuminates the compartment in the provided front end transport cart from which the units have to be picked and the compartment of the AGV in the transport cart into which the front has to be placed.

The Fleet Manager makes sure that the twelve Grenzebach AGVs in the commissioning warehouse do not interfere with each other.

Once the picking order is complete, the AGV leaves the warehouse driving towards the transfer location to deposit the front end transport cart which then continues through the next steps in the assembly workshop.

The newly formed man-robot cooperation in conjunction with the Nolte material flow computer and the Grenzebach Fleet Manager offers a series of advantages: The employees can now accompany the front end transport cart and do not have to manually push it through the picking aisle ensuring ergonomic operations at all times due to the AGV moving the cart autonomously to the intended location. During the picking process, the staff can fully focus on quality control guided by the pick-to-light and put-to-light principle. That way errors can be avoided during picking or placing the fronts and productivity increased.

The "goods-to-man"-robot from Grenzebach already received several logistics awards as picking assistant in 2015 and 2016. The picking solution at Nolte completes the portfolio at Grenzebach of automatic picking assistants for the "man-to-good" AGV solution.

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