In order to make its production and logistics processes more efficient, the Bavarian mechanical engineering specialist Werner Weitner GmbH decided to centralize large parts of its production in a newly built hall. The storage of the raw material should also become more modern. With two Unitower tower storage systems, Kasto provided an equally time- and space-saving, ergonomic and economical solution.
“What we see here was spread over several halls at our site just a short time ago,” describes a visibly proud Heinz Weitner, Managing Director of Werner Weitner GmbH, during a tour of the company’s new production and storage hall. Everything is bright, tidy, clean and relatively quiet – a pleasant working atmosphere. The hall is the jewel in the crown of the “Weitner Engineering World” – as the specialist for mechanical engineering and workshop equipment calls its headquarters in Eichstätt, Upper Bavaria. Founded in 1968 as a metal construction company, Werner Weitner is now a sought-after partner of the international automotive and medical technology industries. With around 250 employees, the company mainly manufactures special tools that are used, for example, in the authorized workshops of numerous car manufacturers.
Organic growth challenges logistics
Werner Weitner has always relied on an extensive range of machinery. However, due to the space available, this was previously housed in various surrounding buildings. “We have grown organically and, as a result, have also gradually expanded our capacities,” reports Heinz Weitner. However, this had also increasingly become a logistical challenge: “The effort required to transport the necessary parts and materials back and forth between the individual processing steps was getting out of hand over time.” The company therefore decided to centralize a large part of its process chain in a purpose-built hall.
The machine builder processes mainly steels and various alloys in its production, but also aluminum and plastics. The portfolio ranges from prototypes to large-scale production. “This results in a fairly large variety of materials, for which we also need corresponding storage capacities,” describes Heinz Weitner. “After all, our customers expect short delivery times and high product availability.” The company therefore orders many materials in stock in order to be able to react quickly when needed.
“Weitner 4.0: The path to a more efficient future
In the past, Werner Weitner used various manually operated storage areas to store the raw material – but this made handling extremely inefficient: “Storage and retrieval, as well as transport to the various processing machines, took up a lot of time and manpower,” says Florian Winhard, department manager of the sawmill. In the course of the new hall construction, the warehouse technology was therefore also to be automated. “This decision was part of our internal ‘Weitner 4.0’ project, with the aim of sustainably optimizing all processes in the company for the future,” adds Daniel Miehling, Controlling and IT at Werner Weitner.
Kasto Maschinenbau was quickly chosen as the partner for this project. “In sawing technology, we have already relied on this manufacturer for many years and are very satisfied with it,” says Weitner, explaining the decision. “We were also aware that Kasto also offers automatic storage systems for long goods and sheet metal. So we sat down together to find a solution for our requirements.”
Compact tower bearing for raw material up to 6 meters long
To make the material flow in the new hall as efficient as possible, Kasto recommended the installation of two Unitower tower storage systems. The Unitower 1.0 is suitable for long materials up to three meters, the Unitower 2.0 for materials up to six meters long. Both are freestanding twin towers. With 52 and 41 cassettes respectively, the warehouses offer sufficient space for Werner Weitner’s raw material stocks – and all this in an extremely small area. “The tower bearings make optimum use of the available space,” finds Florian Winhard. “Compared to our previous storage areas, everything is now much more compact, neat and tidy.”
Which article is in which cassette is electronically stored in the warehouse management system. This is connected to the ProAlpha ERP software used at Werner Weitner via a customized standard interface. Operation is either via a console directly at the warehouse or via a mobile handheld device. A storage and retrieval machine (SRM) provides the required cassettes fully automatically at the respective output station according to the “goods to man” principle. “The workflow is much more ergonomic as a result, and assignment errors are virtually eliminated,” Weitner is pleased to say. The short access times of the Unitower enable the company to process pending orders quickly.
Delivered, cut to size, stored
A Kastomicut E 4.6 swing frame bandsaw is located between the two tower storage stations. It is designed for cross-cutting and miter cutting of pipes, profiles and solid material – and essentially fulfills one task at Werner Weitner: “Our materials are usually all delivered with a length of six meters,” explains Winhard. “We use this saw to separate all items that we only need with a maximum length of three meters to then store them in the smaller Unitower 1.0.” The detour via the sawmill that this saves pays off with Werner Weitner’s wide range of materials and significantly increases efficiency in the storage process.
In order to be able to handle all other sawing tasks quickly, the sawmill has also been given a central location in the new hall. The machine park includes six other models from Kasto – most of them from the universally applicable Kastowin automatic bandsaw series. “Before the new building, our saws were also located decentrally on the site – this caused a lot of unnecessary walking,” Winhard recalls. “We have now been able to improve this situation and have also replaced three saws, so we are now well and modernly positioned here.” The Kastowin machines are suitable for a wide range of materials and dimensions, and for special challenges the employees also have the high-performance bandsaw Kastowin pro at their disposal. “We have been satisfied with Kasto saws for many years, and each new model convinces us again with solid performance and a high range of functions,” emphasizes Managing Director Heinz Weitner.
Bearing and sawing technology from a single source
Since the end of 2019, the new hall together with the storage and sawing technology has been in operation. On average, around 45 cassettes per day are moved in the warehouse, with a total of around 5,000 processes to date. “In the past, a material would go through up to eight handling steps on its way to the finished saw section,” Weitner calculates. “We’ve been able to cut that number in half with the tower storage systems and more efficient organization – so we’re saving a lot of time and labor.”
The company has also been able to more than halve its stock of raw materials thanks to centralization – meaning that less capital is tied up and more space is available for value-adding activities. “The great advantage of working with Kasto is that we got everything from a single source and also had competent support in the hardware and software integration of the bearings and saws into our production process,” says a pleased Daniel Miehling. “Thanks to in-depth and easy-to-understand training, our employees also had no fear of contact with the new technology and can operate it without any problems.”
Since commissioning, there have been virtually no malfunctions at the Unitower bearings, emphasize those responsible at Werner Weitner – and even if there are, the Kasto experts from the headquarters in Achern, Baden, can connect to the system at any time via remote maintenance and rectify faults quickly and easily. “At Kasto, it’s not just the product quality that’s right, but also the service,” Weitner sums it up. “So we have more than enough reasons to continue working together in the future – and not only because we pursue a one-supplier strategy for each machine type. Kasto supports us in setting up our company efficiently and future-proof.”