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The state-of-the-art Logistics Centre is the biggest investment of the Śnieżka Group

Since the opening of the warehouse and administrative section of the new Śnieżka Group Logistics Centre in Zawada at the beginning of 2022, numerous changes have occurred in this modern facility. The thorough modernization and automation of processes allowed the Śnieżka Group to significantly increase its logistics capacity, expand its warehouse space and cut down logistics costs.

The Śnieżka Group Logistic Centre is our largest investment so far in the company's history, thanks to which we have remodelled our logistics processes in order to supply the market with Śnieżka products even more effectively. Our logistics processes are fully scalable and supported in everyday work by advanced IT processes. Owing to this, we monitor the demand and stock of our products in the field on an on-going basis. This, among other things, allows us to maintain a balance between production and inventory.

Zdzisław Czerwiec Vice-President of the Management Board, Supply Chain Management Director

Modern warehouse zone

The Śnieżka Group Logistics Centre has a total area of 44,000 sqm., of which 35,000 sqm. is the warehouse area. (with the possibility of increasing the area by another 10,000 sqm). The facility has 26 loading docks – the first three are intended for receiving goods delivered primarily from manufacturing plants in Brzeźnica, Lubzina and Pustków, while the remaining ones are used for loading goods leaving the warehouse.

The entire facility is divided into several zones: entry of goods into the warehouse, storage, order processing and exit of goods from the warehouse. The goods storage area is equipped with high-storage racks - we have approx. 40 thousand pallet places, each can accommodate a pallet weighing 1250 kg gross. There is a separate zone here for pallet picking, i.e. processing orders for Śnieżka's customers.

Anna Giza Manager of the Śnieżka Group Logistic Centre

Automation of the pallet preparation process

Many processes have been automated in the Logistics Centre, including the pallet picking one, which is supported by PackageBuilder and VoicePicking solutions. The first one is the SAP EWM system solution, which plans what goods will be placed on the pallet and what their arrangement on individual layers will be. The latter, on the other hand, enables to perform tasks based on instructions that are processed by the system into voice information and then transferred to the headsets of warehouse employees who carry out the pallet picking.

Another streamlined process was the move-over of the burden of physical work related to preparing the pallet for shipment to automation – i.e. weighing, wrapping, sticking appropriate labels. In the centre of the warehouse innovative solutions have been installed – wrapping and labelling units (GOWE), whose task is to prepare pallets for shipment. In total, there are four such units: one is adapted to work with full pallets, ready for shipment, requiring only labelling, and the other – with picking pallets that must go through the complete preparation process, i.e. weighing, wrapping and labelling.

Even prior to the implementation of the GOWE units, each pallet was manually checked, weighed, wrapped and labelled. Only then could the pallet be delivered to the warehouse exit zone. It took a lot of time. Now this process is fully automated. The employee responsible for picking the pallet delivers it to the station - the GOWE unit, and then the weighing process is started automatically. The pallet then moves to the station where it is wrapped. In the next stage, the pallet is loaded at the automatic wrapping station - the robot receives information about the type of pallet, carrier, logistics, transport and additional labels that are to be placed on the pallet.

Jan Rochmalski Senior Foreman of the Warehouse at the Śnieżka Group Logistics Centre

SAP supports processes

A great advantage of the warehouse management system (SAP EWM) used in the Logistics Centre, which is an important link in the SAP solutions implemented in Śnieżka, is its full integration with the systems of all logistics operators. This means that when Śnieżka’s automation system identifies a given pallet, it obtains labels from the logistics operator indicated at the transport planning stage. After providing the pallet with necessary labels it is delivered to the DOCK zone. Then it is collected by AGVs.

At each stage of its journey through the GOWE station, the pallet is scanned. Consequently, the location of the pallet unit can be identified at any time: in which slot it is located and at what stage the entire process of preparing the pallet for shipment is.

Autonomic AGV trucks

Prior to commissioning the logistics centre, Śnieżka’s employees collected the pallet from the wrapping machine to deliver it to the so-called storage place at the DOCKS. With the introduction of autonomous AGV trucks – the Logistics Centre is equipped with seven devices of this type – this process has been significantly facilitated and accelerated.

When the finished pallet appears in the collection window, the system sends information to the AGV truck to collect the pallet and put it in the indicated area at the DOCKS. Importantly, the entire area at the DOCKS is mapped, and each of the nearly 1,400 spots has a unique address assigned to it. In this way, the AGV truck receives precise information on where to put the pallet, and therefore - where it will be waiting for collection and loading for transport.

Dariusz Szczepanik MWG Foreman at the Śnieżka Group Logistics Centre

An important advantage of AGV trucks is also the fact that they can transport loads without constant operator intervention.  Owing to them, the flow of goods has been significantly improved, in addition, AGV trucks allow for precise placement of loads in the storage areas at DOCKS, which has significantly facilitated the work of forklift operators during loading. Thus, the risk of potential damage to the pallet during forklift manoeuvres has been virtually eliminated.

All AGV trucks are equipped with lithium-ion batteries and are programmed to charge their batteries each time they are not operating.  Another words, in the absence of an order, the AGV heads for the nearest docking base and charges its batteries.  It is also worth pointing out another important advantage of autonomous AGV trucks – the operator can enter the device into manual operation mode.

Thanks to the automation of processes in our Logistics Centre, on the one hand, we freed employees from manual work related to, among others, wrapping and labelling pallets and their transport, and on the other hand, we created conditions for the development of new competences in the area of automation. These skills are necessary for them to operate automation and AGV trucks so that tasks related to the preparation of goods for shipment could run smoothly.

Anna Giza Manager of the Śnieżka Group Logistics Centre.

The aim of the erection of the Śnieżka Logistics Centre in Zawada was to increase the logistic capacity (the possibility of storing more finished products and dispatching more pallets per day) and to reduce the costs of logistics processes in the Company and selected companies of the Śnieżka Group.  The new facility has taken over the functions of the existing warehouse of finished products in Brzeźnica, Lubzina and Pustków. The implementation and commissioning of warehouse automation, wrapping and labelling slots and autonomous AGV trucks in the Śnieżka Group  Logistics Centre resulted in significant improvement of all processes related to warehouse logistics.