viastore Case Study – Phoenix Contact-How AS/RS is the ‘backbone’ of an automated material handling logistics solution

IMG_1448-2viastore implemented an automated warehouse and picking solution for Phoenix Contact, a global manufacturer of industrial electrical and electronic technology products, at the company’s US operations headquarters, based in Middletown, Pennsylvania. The viastore solution includes robotic depalletizers, a conveyor sortation system, a seven aisle mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), and ten (10) Goods to Person pick/pack stations, all driven by a warehouse management system (WMS) that also controls a conventional warehouse. The entire automated material handling system was supplied by viastore systems.

Phoenix Contact develops and manufactures industrial electrical and electronic technology products that power, protect, connect and automate systems and equipment. The company has almost 13,000 employees worldwide with a global headquarters in Blomberg, Germany. US operations are based in Middletown, Pennsylvania and include both manufacturing and distribution, with more than 500 employees.

As a manufacturer of industrial automation, interconnection, and interface solutions that are often mission critical items for its customers, Phoenix Contact wanted to bring production and logistics closer to their customers, to provide shorter lead times, easier on-site reviews, faster response and increased flexibility to ensure accurate and on-time delivery to its North American customers.
The solution to do this includes a robotic depalletizer, conveyor sortation system, a mini-load automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), and ten (10) Goods to Person pick/pack stations driven by a warehouse management system (WMS) that also controls a conventional warehouse. The entire automated material handling system was supplied by viastore systems.

“The automated material handling solution has become the backbone of the company’s distribution center operations, and more recently has been critical in the supply of components in our US manufacturing as well,” said Lou Paioletti, director of supply chain services for Phoenix Contact. The company has 3 regional supply chain hubs globally, in Germany, China and the US. The US facility was designed to support the North and South American subsidiaries. While the German facility already had an automated solution from viastore, the US facility did not. “We received product manufactured in Europe at our US facility already in totes, using our supply of company-owned sea containers,” said Paioletti. “We knew we needed to automate our US facility, both in systems and in software to support Phoenix Contact’s growth in the Americas, as well as growing manufacturing in the US. Without it, we were on a fast path to run out of space in a couple years.”
Having a common automation solution across multiple facilities made sense from a sharing best practices standpoint as well. “There was a collective mindshare in trying to utilize a global solution,” added Paioletti. “Having an automated facility in Europe, we already saw the potential that an automated facility in the US could bring our operations.”

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About John Clark

John is responsible for Marketing and Business Development at the North American headquarters of viastore systems in Grand Rapids, MI.

He has over 20 years of broad hands-on experience in all aspects of marketing and communication, including writing, content marketing, advertising, design, trade show and event planning, public/media relations, website, lead generation and management.

Prior to viastore, he has held marketing management positions at TGW Systems and Dematic, both global material handling automation companies.

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