Order picking has become one of the most important processes within logistics in the past. In eCommerce in particular, order picking is decisive for the efficiency of a company, in addition to dispatch. Customers are increasingly demanding fast response times, high flexibility and short delivery times. The same applies to classic production companies whose order picking is the link between the value-adding production processes and the material buffering within the different warehouse levels. Irrespective of the industrial application area of order picking, the activities are still frequently carried out manually. The main reasons lie in the better scalability of the systems as well as in the flexibility of the article and order design. On the other hand, the error rate increases with manually executed activities. In order to minimize this as much as possible, different tools and technologies are made available to the employees in practice. One of these technologies is the so-called beamer wagon, which as a collection vehicle enables the parallel picking of several orders.
In addition to the lowest possible number of picking errors, the achievable picking performance (measured in picks per hour) is an important factor in the planning and selection of picking systems. Due to the large number of influencing variables on the picking performance, this is a complex planning task which has not yet been satisfactorily solved for systems with beamer trolley technology. On the one hand the boundary conditions of the respective application must be considered, on the other hand optimal strategies must be found beside a suitable system construction. Thus, the movement of the order picker, the orders to be processed together and the allocation of storage locations with articles can be selected in such a way that the highest possible order picking performance is achieved. In view of the numerous existing degrees of freedom and the strong interactions between their characteristics, however, each beamer cart system must currently be planned individually and time-consuming.
The aim is therefore to standardize and systematize the planning of the beamer cart systems described. On the one hand, a planning tool is to be developed which solves the planning task with simulation support and determines a suitable system structure as well as suitable strategies for the highest possible system performance. This accelerates and optimizes the planning process at the same time, as a large number of alternatives can be compared quickly and automatically. In order to ensure the implementation of the chosen strategies in operative operation, a demonstrator SAP®-App will be developed. While the planning is based on forecasted or historical order data, the incoming customer orders must be processed in real time. The SAP®-App takes over this task and compiles picking orders for the projector trolleys with the help of the batch formation strategy selected in the planning phase. The system performance determined in the planning phase can thus also be best achieved in the operating phase.
The first two project stages focus on the analysis and conception of the overall system as well as the subsystems. In the first two steps, the general approach in the planning and operation of beamer carriage systems as well as the relevant degrees of freedom will be examined.
Once the first two modules have been completed with the development of a construction kit and an SAP® App, the third phase of the project begins with the construction and testing of the components. First, a simulation model is modeled and implemented. The goal is to investigate the interactions of the individual degrees of freedom on the picking performance and to simulate them. Furthermore, a prototype construction of a beamer cart will be implemented. Finally, the necessary algorithms for processing the order data will be developed and subsequently implemented in the SAP® App.
In the fourth project period, the individual software and hardware modules will first be combined and the project will then be completed as part of a validation of the overall system.
This research project is carried out on behalf of VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik within the framework of the R&D programme Information and Communication Technology Bavaria and is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.