Press release BoxID: 699107 (KBS Industrieelektronik GmbH)
  • KBS Industrieelektronik GmbH
  • Burkheimer Straße 10
  • 79111 Freiburg
  • Contact person
  • Stéphanie Pigot
  • +49 (761) 45255-51

Picking at Roche Diagnostics

Yellow means turn around

(PresseBox) (Freiburg, ) Roche Diagnostics is using pick by light solutions by KBS for picking orders in Mannheim. The four picking zones were individually configured with the help of employee input.

Helping shape work processes and workstations is an important part of working together at Roche Diagnostics. The four picking zones, in which some 14,500 items are picked for delivery across the globe every day, are an example. The approx. 4,000 storage racks and spaces there are equipped with 3,752 pick by light displays that were completely renovated in four project stages from 2007 to 2011. Most of the shelf displays feature a 3-digit digital volume display, an eye-catching light and a long travel key for documented completed orders. The difference between the number of shelf displays and the number of storage racks is the result of the approx. 300 shelves that were equipped with a 6-digit collective display. The collective display shows both the number of items to be picked and the bin number.

Debut for vertically positioned displays

The supplier is KBS Industrieelektronik GmbH, a company that was able to realise a unique solution in Mannheim. The employees voiced their needs from their own perspective and each zone was then individually configured accordingly. "The KBS service technicians and products were very flexible in adapting to our requests," confirmed project manager Dirk Petri. Due to the at times very close quarters, KBS even developed an entirely new type of shelf display for Roche Diagnostics. The first-ever vertically positioned displays made by KMS were installed in Mannheim.

The individual picking zones mainly differ in the ambient temperature. Two zones are held at room temperature, while the others are cooled to between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (Image 12 + 13). A container conveyor system, which is used to automatically transport the transport containers, connects the four zones to each other. More than 50 percent of the incoming orders pass through at least two of the four zones.

Six of seven colours in use

Roche Diagnostics has relied on light-directed picking methods since 1992 because they produce a low error rate and allow new employees to be trained quickly. KBS has been their exclusive supplier since 2003. "The high quality of the reference plant we visited and the seven available light colours for the display lights were what convinced us at that time," Petri recalls. Since then the two companies have "gotten to know and appreciate one another over the course of almost ten years of working together."

The lights at Roche Diagnostics shine in six different colours that vary by location: blue, yellow, red, green, white and purple. One of the warehouse zones with temperature-sensitive products requires five different colours. There, the boxes are cooled and stored behind small metal doors that are only to be opened when removing the product. Five metal doors are arranged vertically with the respective shelf displays illuminated in red, yellow, green, white or blue. "The different colours ensure that the employee doesn't reach into the wrong shelf," Petri tells us.

Storage works too

KBS was able to realise another unique feature in the so-called "zone controllers". These are special systems with eye-catching lights and an LCD screen for displaying multiple lines of text. They are centrally installed in the picking zone. The picking orders are requested from the superordinate system with a scanner that is connected to the zone controller, and the eye-catching lights on the respective shelves illuminate to allow each order to be filled.

There is another original solution behind the controller's eye-catching lights that was custom made for Roche Diagnostics. The illuminated eye-catching light on the control directs the employee to picking items that are not within the direct line of sight. If the picker needs to grab an item out of a shelf behind him or her, the light turns yellow - yellow means turn around. A purple light, on the other hand, indicates that there is another shelf on the periphery of the picking zone.

A positive conclusion

"We occasionally have to adapt the system to new products and changing pick-up conditions," Petri explains. Sometimes new shelves are set up outside of the ideal visual range of employees. That is when the controller's eye-catching lights prove to be a true asset. The changes are programmed by KBS into the software that is installed on separate KBS control computers in each of the picking zones. Each computer is connected to the ABS warehouse management system from Aberle Software GmbH via an interface. "We always receive quality support from KBS every time we rearrange our facilities or come to them with changes we would like to make," Petri says.

The conclusion: Roche Diagnostics is very happy with the pick by light solution from KBS. The employees have a personal and convenient work environment, and the company benefits from a future-proof and flexible system that ensures the highest possible level of quality for picking orders.

About Roche Diagnostics

The international logistics centre for Roche Diagnostics is located in Mannheim. Roche in Mannheim is the global hub for more than reagents, devices and replacement parts - more than 27,000 products in total. As the international logistics centre, this site provides the central services for Roche's Diagnostics division. Every day products are sent out to subsidiaries, retailers, hospitals and laboratories in more than 170 different countries. 86,000 pallets and 40,000 trays with reagents, instruments and replacement parts are stored at temperatures ranging from -25 to +30 degrees Celsius. Each year, more than 700 employees process 1 million orders containing 5.1 items per order on average and a total volume of 53,000 tonnes each year.

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KBS Industrieelektronik GmbH

Originally founded in 1981 as an engineering firm for industrial automation and electronic development, today KBS is a specialist in the development, production and installation of custom systems for voucherless picking. The Freiburg-based company develops practice-oriented solutions in close cooperation with its clients to decidedly strengthen their competitive position.

KBS offers complete software solutions (material flow calculators, SAP connections, etc.) in addition to hardware (warehouse shelf displays, control computers, PickCarts and pick by voice). In addition to the standard components, client-specific versions can also be developed, even for low volume orders. KBS realises small scale systems with a low number of shelf displays as well as larger projects with tens of thousands of shelf displays all over the world.

The reference list of KBS clients includes renowned companies from all industries and companies of all sizes. KBS has realised projects for clients including BMW, Daimler, DHL, dm Drogeriemarkt, Fielmann, Kärcher, Mexx, Pelikan, Pfizer, Roche, Swarovski, Tesa, Tesco, Verlagsgruppe Weltbild, Volkswagen and Woolworth.