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Reifen Gundlach and AMI implement “wheel sorters”

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For Alexander Mauer (right) and Mario Weber, an efficient sorting solution and its space-saving arrangement were the focus of the project implementation

The company headquarters of Reifen Gundlach and AMI Förder- und Lagertechnik are only about 30 kilometers apart as the crow flies. However, the two companies have maintained a good working relationship for years, not just because of their physical proximity. The systems that have been implemented also keep what the conveyor technology manufacturer promised. An example of the active partnership is the realization of a shipping sorter system in the logistics center of Reifen Gundlach GmbH in Daufbach.

From a single assembly workshop, the company Reifen Gundlach, headquartered in Raubach, has developed into a major player in the wholesale of tires and wheels and a supplier of complete wheels in more than 45 years. The large number of brands that the customers of the company, which today employs more than 390 people, can choose from alone bears witness to this. The catalogs contain the products of all leading manufacturers and in the segment of aluminum rims the company's own brands OXXO, Advanti Racing, Enkei Tuning and MAK Wheels. A feeling for the needs of the customers, which include the tire specialist and wholesale trade as well as automobile manufacturers and importers, has always been one of the decisive guarantees of success.

But dealing with the internal processes always played an important role in the strategic considerations. In 2008, the most modern complete wheel assembly line in Europe was put into operation in the logistics center in Daufenbach. With this, Reifen Gundlach prepared itself for the challenges of the changing market and established itself as a system provider. In this assembly line, which consists of several stations, a unit is created from the components tires and rims. These units, known in technical jargon as complete wheels, are balanced on the assembly line, measured and then assembled into shipping units. A shipping unit consists of a maximum of two tires. "This is mainly due to the weight of the shipping units," says Alexander Mauer (Image 1, right), Technical Manager at Reifen Gundlach GmbH, summing up the facts. “Another aspect is also important for physical shipping and thus for our logistics partners. We make a promise to our customers that each of them can dispose of their bikes no later than 24 hours after receipt of the order. Shipping takes place throughout Europe.”

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The shipping units are ejected to the respective of the total of twelve end points using rotary ejectors

But back to internal logistics. Cardboard boxes are used to protect the rims from scratches or other damage on the way to the customer. The shipping units formed by the robots then go through a shrink tunnel. There, the shipping unit is wrapped in shrink film, giving it its stability so that it can reach the recipient undamaged. Still provided with a shipping label, the unit is ready to be handed over to the shipping area.

Link between order picking and shipping

The final station in the production process is the shipping zone. Here is the conveyor system from AMI, which in this case serves as a sorter for preparing the shipping units at one of the twelve loading gates, the efficient link, so to speak, between the picking area and shipping.

"More than ten years ago, we also used AMI to implement the existing conveyor technology in the picking area," says Mauer. "And since we have had good experiences with the system and the support from the AMI team over the years, our 'neighbor' from Luckenbach was the first point of contact for the current sorter project. However, we also wanted to give other providers the chance to prove themselves.”

But the technical concept developed by AMI, including the conveyor components, such as the rotary ejector, which sorts the shipping unit, each consisting of two compact tires, at the appropriate point to one of the twelve destinations for shipping, convinced Mauer. Mario Weber (Image 1, left), Sales Manager at AMI Förder- und Lagertechnik GmbH: "The rotary diverters are an integral part of our wide-ranging product and system portfolio and are ideally suited to making sorting and distribution processes efficient." Correspondingly to the conveyed goods, cardboard boxes and tire stacks shrink-wrapped in foil, the prerequisites for a stable process and a system output of 1,800 shipping units per hour could be created with the help of the rotary diverter.

As soon as the AMI rotary ejector receives an electrical impulse, the arm rotates 180°. The pusher plate ejects the conveyed goods, in this case the complete wheels, out of the row (Fig. 2). Thanks to a special gear, it remains parallel to the piece goods at all times in order to eject precisely and without errors. The integration of an additional lift also enables gentle ejection from closed rows of conveyed goods.

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The ascending conveyor brings the shipping units from the working height (800 mm) to the conveying height of 3,300 mm.

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