Brano ‑ the path to 21st century logistics
From complete locking mechanisms, other mechanical parts, door handles to fuel tank caps for Skoda Auto and other car companies. This is the business of Brano, which has recently committed to a change in logistics and invested in digitizing its warehouse to minimize the role of humans. At the TAL 2023 conference, Denis Kittrich, a technologist from Brano, together with Jiří Žižka, project manager at Aimtec, explained how the project was carried out.
A purely Czech company with a Czech owner and headquarters in Hradec nad Moravicí, its products have found a place in virtually every car in the world. It supplies manufacturers on every continent and employs approximately 2,300 people. In 2020, the company came to the conclusion that it had been investing heavily in production for many years, but its logistics concept was more in line with the 20th than the 21st century. Logistics was isolated from production, and its records were based on pencil and paper. The aim of the pilot modernisation project was to build a new automated warehouse, linked directly to production, with complex digital control of not only automation but also the surrounding logistics processes.
Automated warehouse with linkage to production
Of course, the project had to be tailored to the "business reality" of Brano. So the logistics concept covers 25 assembly lines and around 400 material types. "We calculated that we needed a throughput of 300 KLT boxes into the warehouse and 250 out of the warehouse with 24-hour availability," Kittrich explains in the presentation.
The new warehouse also houses part of production, namely the injection moulding plant, which is supplied directly from the automated warehouse, and the painted parts are automatically sent back to store. "The warehouse itself has more than five thousand storage positions, the automatic stackers move at a speed of 6 m/s and handle the unloading/loading process in about 30 seconds," says Žižka, explaining the details of the solution.
What led to the modern logistics?
However, as Kittrich recalls, there were "a thousand problems" to be solved before and during implementation. In his presentation, he mentions five of the biggest ones. The first was to build and integrate the new warehouse into the company's operations without reducing production, which a TIER 1 supplier cannot afford to do. Another challenge was to devise and implement a data link between the current ERP system and the new control system and, on the other hand, the technology, as the goal was to link the production plan with the automated weighing of parts at the workplace. Problem number three was a very complicated and diverging material flow requiring the integration of 90 different processes into a single logistics whole.
"It was also important that we had to connect all the technology suppliers and give them all one milestone to meet at the same time so that we could get the new warehouse and its associated processes up and running," says Kittrich, describing the fourth major challenge. There are seven suppliers, including Aimtec, whose control system covered the entire project. Kittrich mentions the staff as the last major thing they had to work on at Brano. They had to adopt a completely new concept of their current activities and learn how to work in modernised logistics.
How exactly were all the technologies integrated into one functional logistics whole? And what does such a fully automated project in Brano look like? At the TAL 2023 conference, Denis Kittrich, a technologist from Brano, together with Jiří Žižka, project manager at Aimtec, explained how the project was carried out.