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DIN A3 photo calendars are not a problem for the highly flexible Denisort system by ferag

Photo by Ferag AG

The latest Denisort line installed by Swiss company Ferag AG at Europe’s leading photo service provider CEWE in Oldenburg has some very special features. On one hand, the automatic sorting system – which is integrated into the existing building and is particularly compact – is connected via a spiral to a conveyor bridge that logistics service provider DHL uses to directly load its swap bodies. On the other hand, the sorting trays – which are comparatively large at 75 x 55 centimetres – are also suitable for larger products. CEWE is then also able to use this system to process DIN A3 formats, which are produced exclusively at its main site.

For some years now, CEWE has used technology from Swiss materials handling specialist Ferag. Oldenburg is the third site where a Denisort system is making a decisive contribution to the optimization of order fulfilment at the photo service provider. Just like the sorting lines implemented by Ferag in Germering near Munich and in Mönchengladbach, the new system in Oldenburg had to be up and running by October at the latest. The reason for this was a simple one. In order to be able to cope with the flood of orders in the lead-up to Christmas, production at all plants traditionally runs at full speed from October onwards. According to CEWE, photo books and photo calendars are among the most popular Christmas presents. This means the system – which was installed inside just one month in autumn 2019 – had to demonstrate its outstanding reliability immediately after commissioning. With the support of seasonal staff, the core workforce usually work in three or even four-shift operation in the fourth quarter of the year. The same applies to the machines, which have to remain fully operational without breakdowns – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means that the Denisort system had to achieve the maximum sorting capacity of up to 2100 packaged units per hour – regardless of whether this was a mini photo album, a photo on a phone case, prints on aluminium Dibond or a large DIN A3 photo calendar, the latter of which CEWE produces exclusively at its main site in Oldenburg.

Space-saving sorting system in existing building

As expansion of the CEWE factory site in Oldenburg had already been ruled out, the new automatic sorting system had to be installed in the smallest area possible in an existing building. Anyone now visiting the building can immediately see that this was a resounding success. Despite the 22 sorting destinations, where the CEWE packages slide smoothly and gently into plastic containers, the complete sorting line only required an area of around 60 m2. The chain length is a mere 38 metres. In order to save space, the installation takes full advantage of the 3D capabilities of the Denisort system, with the return stretch of the 54 sorting trays running overhead at a height of three to four metres. In order for this to function smoothly and for the tray to be flipped upside down, it must be empty by the last sorting point. This design principle means that a repeat trip of a package, which weighs up to four kilograms, around the system is ruled out. The system thus works like a linear sorter. The only requirement here is that the line cannot also act as a buffer store, where the item travels continuously around the system until the sorting point is available.

Spiral ensures automatic connection to the loading terminal

The layout concept resembles an oversized Denisort blade wheel and has already proven its worth at CEWE. A similar concept can also be seen in Germering and Mönchengladbach. However, in contrast to these two systems, the Denisort line in Oldenburg comes with a special function that further increases its efficiency – the first sorting destination after the chute is connected via a spiral to an automatic conveyor bridge. This leads directly to the loading bay where the lorries from CEWE’s preferred parcel delivery provider DHL are docked. The goods to be shipped travel upwards on the spiral to a height of three metres, where they are then fed directly to the loading point via a belt conveyor and telescopic belt.

Spacious trays for DIN A3 formats

At 75 centimetres long and 55 centimetres wide, the trays on the sorting line in Oldenburg are the biggest that Ferag has implemented on a Denisort system to date. This allowed the Swiss engineers to fulfil one of the customer’s key requirements – CEWE concentrates on manufacturing particularly large-format products at its main site, such as DIN A3 wall calendars. As a result, the trays in Oldenburg have to be able to transport packages measuring up to 68 x 48.5 x 34 centimetres. Furthermore, Ferag also reinforced the trays on all four sides so that they offer even more stability. As in Germering and also in part in Mönchengladbach, the trays are loaded manually. To take this into account, the chain speed of the system is restricted to 0.4 metres per second. The barcode on the package is scanned immediately after it has been loaded in the tray by the CEWE employee. This allows for permanent digital tracking of the conveyed and sorted goods, because the Denisort system is connected via an Ethernet gateway to CEWE’s master Warehouse Management System (WMS).

Test passed with flying colours

The busy Christmas period where the modular, easily extendable Denisort system successfully passed its acid test is now a distant memory. Since then, the automatic sorting line has underlined its outstanding flexibility in everyday operation – and all without complex maintenance. What all this demonstrates is that Ferag technology is not only optimally equipped for the seasonal fluctuations seen at CEWE, but also for handling the wide range of product sizes and formats that are processed with high levels of precision by the system. Another plus is the extremely quiet rollers, which can barely be heard by the employees working on the sorting line. For this reason, too, the new technology quickly met with strong acceptance by employees in Oldenburg. Following months of smooth operation, they have come to greatly appreciate the new system.

Europe’s leading photo service provider

Founded back in 1912, CEWE has since become the prime address in the photo service branch. This is emphasized in particular by the award-winning CEWE photo book, with over six million copies sold each year. Other personalized photo products are available to customers under the CEWE, WhiteWall and Cheerz brand names, and also at many European retailers. The CEWE Group has established a highly efficient production system for business items in the online print market, with billions of high-quality products sent out to customers each year via the SAXOPRINT, CEWE-PRINT.de, LASERLINE and viaprinto sales platforms. The CEWE Group employs more than 4000 staff in over 20 countries, with sales growing to €714.9 million in 2019. The CEWE share is listed on the SDAX index.

For more information, please visit: https://www.ferag.com