Case Study: Steel Supplier Learns the Value of High-Density Storage


From the mine to the end customer: a perfect summary of the OneSteel portfolio. This Australian company is one of the continent’s leading steel producers and distributors. A specialist part of the Arrium Mining & Materials Group, it covers all the associated process steps in-house – from the mining of the iron ore through the metallurgical steps, casting and forming, and on to distribution and sales. OneSteel Metalcentre possesses 50 sites across the country, has a workforce of some 850 employees and achieves annual turnover of more than 700 million Australian dollars.


The distribution center in the Western Australian capital, Perth, is a vital hub for the company: From here, OneSteel Metalcentre supplies not only numerous customers but also a number of branches throughout the state. Here, approximately 8,000 tonnes of different types of steel products await delivery to construction companies, shipyards, mechanical and plant engineering companies or are earmarked for shipment to the company’s many branch sites. “We do not just deliver differing quantities but also supply our products just-in-time if required,” explains Andrew Cosgrove, National Operations Manager at OneSteel. “Transparent, efficient storage operations are therefore absolutely vital to us.”


High capacity in a small area
OneSteel Metalcentre obtains the steel from its own plants – much of it in the form of cylindrical, rod, and pipe material. The company stores this stock in a UNICOMPACT honeycomb storage system from the German storage technology specialist KASTO. The bar stock is moved and stored on auxiliary load carriers, so-called system cassettes. The UNICOMPACT warehouse at OneSteel has 2,272 cassette locations. Each cassette accommodates loads up to five tonnes and is suitable for material with a length of up to nine meters. “In total, almost 4,000 tonnes of steel, subdivided into some 700 different item types, are stored in the UNICOMPACT,” reports Cosgrove. Despite this, the height and compact design of the honeycomb store mean that it covers only a small area – a decisive advantage for OneSteel.


“Compared to conventional storage methods, the UNICOMPACT provides a very high storage density – which, for us, means shorter transport paths and more space for additional material or additional process steps,” says Cosgrove, describing the benefits of the KASTO solution. The new storage system has also greatly reduced the access times. The material is loaded and unloaded from the store fully automatically using a storage and retrieval machine (SRM). The bar stock is sent to the picking area at the press of a button in accordance with the “goods-to-person” principle – a solution that is much faster than in conventional floor and cantilever arm storage systems. “This guarantees productivity and efficiency in our business,” emphasises Cosgrove. He goes on to explain that working in the warehouse has become considerably easier and the process more reliable thanks to the automatic system. While the equipment carries out the laborious loading and unloading of the store virtually by itself, the employees have more time for other tasks.


Modern warehouse management for more transparency
The KASTOlvr Warehouse Management Software ensures an efficient and transparent material flow. The system reliably controls all processes in the warehouse and gives the user a detailed overview of orders and stock levels. “Every delivery and every individual cassette can be identified and tracked via the software,” explains Cosgrove. “This helps us to avoid delivery errors and to offer our customers a consistently high product and service quality.” The Warehouse Management Software has also greatly simplified the task of combining the items required for each specific order.


Everyone at OneSteel Metalcentre is deeply impressed by the UNICOMPACT storage system: “It enables us to work more quickly, more safely, more reliably, and more efficiently than before,” says Operations Manager Cosgrove to summarize the benefits. “Ultimately, this is all to the benefit of our customers, as they get exactly the material they require from us – extremely flexibly and in the shortest possible time.” The automated warehouse will enable the company to further expand its leading position in the country. If additional capacity should be necessary in the future, the modular UNICOMPACT system can be easily modified and extended to meet the new requirements.

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