The digital factory and the way to – Industry 4.0

Digitale Fabrik

What is a digital factory? The digital transformation with the conversion of all production and distribution processes is an important challenge for many companies. The concept of "Industry 4.0" is referring to this digital revolution. The entire intralogistics of Leesys GmbH is a successful example of the digitization of production and distribution processes. The Intralogistics is to be considered the part of the logistics which will not take place on the street, but refers to the transport within the facilities.

 
Leesys - an example of the digital factory

The base for the intralogistics of Leesys GmbH are the central warehouse management system, a highly automated warehouse storage system and a fleet of several automated guided vehicles (AGVs). These autonomous vehicles are driving inside the production facilities as if controlled by magic, they store pallets in racks, they provide the necessary components to the production lines, and they pick up the finished products and deliver them reliably to the dispatch area. These vehicles are freely programmable and are oriented by laser-based sensors. All this features have been enabled by the digital factory.
 
"With the support of the integrated digital intralogistics all internal processes are optimized, processes have been accelerated and cost savings have been realized", says Elke Krenkel, Head of Logistics at Leesys GmbH.

Führerloses Transportfahrzeug

High complexity - for digital factory no problem

The implemented logistics concept makes it possible to manage the complexity. The automated high-bay warehouse is designed for 1,700 pallets and 30,000 containers. The electronics production covers an area of 6,500 m² and a total of eight SMD production lines. The installed capacity allows processing of 760,000 components per hour, so that each year 20 million units can be manufactured and tested. According to the huge capacity a lot of material needs to be procured, transported, and definitely documented.

And with the target to constantly optimize our processes, a one-off investment will not be sufficient. "We have to continue to invest in hardware and software in order to keep the system as efficient as possible", explains Elke Krenkel. "Just for example, we just finished a project to retrofit all vehicles with an updated hardware and software."

 
Of course, these efforts have one goal. Because the high level of automation and digitization of intralogistics is seen primarily as an investment. And with this investment gains Leesys flexibility and productivity. "We manufacture batches with lot sizes from 1 to 14000 units. We need flexibility and lowest change over times. We have the target to achieve a maximum internal material delivery time of one hour - from the warehouse to the SMT line. And we make it! But only through the use of automated, driverless production logistics and the fully automated high-bay warehouse", explains Elke Krenkel. In other words, to process these huge quantities is only possible in the digital factory driven by “Industry 4.0”.