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WITRON Uses 'Smart Data' For Logistics Excellence

Regardless of the country or industry sector, many automated logistics systems run nearly 365 days a year, and usually around the clock. The market constantly demands shorter and shorter delivery times, requiring maximum availability for state-of-the-art picking systems in distribution centres – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Despite constant operation, innovative and holistic maintenance concepts to avoid unplanned downtimes are required. WITRON, the general contractor for logistics, opts for 'predictive maintenance' in numerous distribution centres that the company has designed and realised itself. An important part of this is proactive maintenance, based on an extensive registration and analysis of operating data.

The generated information is converted automatically and highly efficiently into maintenance orders for the maintenance team. Big Data becomes Smart Data at WITRON, enabling 'maintenance excellence'.

Smart Data

WITRON has developed technologies that allow for the conversion of a wealth of data into easily manageable information – an important issue for intra-logistics experts, who also have experience in acting as operators for logistics centres.

Smart Data is an initiative of the Federal Government of Germany that pursues the goal of improving Big Data technologies, accelerating decisions and optimising business processes, thereby creating innovations from pure data. Based on this high-tech strategy, WITRON’s think tanks are creating leading-edge solutions.

“With the tools developed by WITRON, we are able to record all data for all system components in detail, starting with the operating times of the conveyor system, the crane cycles, the run-time of special machines, all the way to the cycle times of every single motor or sensor,” explains Florian Wittmann, who has been integrating ODC (operation data-capturing) systems for WITRON for more than two years and training the service teams on how to deal with these.

Operation data-capturing is the linking of system data with the maintenance management. “This is how we create a system-related maintenance concept for every customer. We automatically qualify, interpret and convert the data into conclusive and practically feasible information, which optimises and controls the work of the maintenance team,” adds Wittmann.

The Goal: Creation Of An Individual Maintenance Concept

Once a system has been put into operation and the initial maintenance of the components as recommended by the manufacturer has been carried out, WITRON immediately starts recording the operating data. “The goal is to shift away from an overall maintenance plan towards an individual plan with high efficiency and cost-effectiveness,” says Wittmann.

WITRON customers benefit from a large global data network, which also incorporates input into the maintenance concept. The WITRON Support Centre maintains more than 300 active service contracts. In addition, WITRON operates in more than 40 locations with its own on-site teams – service experts who permanently work within the customer’s facility and who are responsible for the maintenance and operation of highly automated logistics systems of various sizes and throughput within the industry sector.

Service 4.0: The WITOOL

The WITOOL is web-based and practical service-management software developed by WITRON, including integrated maintenance processing. In the field of service and maintenance, the trend clearly goes towards self-learning systems. It is about creating a comprehensive data pool, optimising processes with the existing data, identifying trends based on the available data and processes, and creating exact action recommendations for the maintenance team.

Nothing Is Impossible: 0% Unplanned

“At WITRON, we will continuously develop operation data-capturing and the operation data analysis according to the Smart Data motivation in order to create even more useful forecasts for service technicians, allowing them to work more efficiently with qualified information,” emphasises Wittmann, looking towards the future.

“We will not be able to completely eliminate any downtime, since there is too much interference within a logistics centre, whether automated or manual – defective pallets, defective packaging, breakage of goods, etc. However, 0% of unplanned repairs based on technical or mechanical errors – this is undoubtedly possible, and that is what we are working towards.”

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