Transmission Supplier Gets Lean With Logistics
GETRAG has been the world’s largest supplier of transmission systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles for several years. Founded in 1935 and based in Untergruppenbach, Germany, the company offers a broad product portfolio: manual, automatic and dual-clutch transmissions, as well as various options for hybrid and electric transmissions.
GETRAG operates joint ventures with Ford Motor Co. and Chinese automakers Jiangling Motors Corp. Ltd. and Dongfeng Motor Corp. The company also supplies transmissions to various other automakers, including BMW, Volvo, Daimler AG, Ferrari, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen Group, Porsche, Qoros and Renault.
GETRAG practices lean manufacturing in all 24 of its plants around the world. When GETRAG Ford Transmissions recently updated its Halewood, U.K., factory, a “lean logistics” program was implemented that places palletized parts closer to the production line.
Parts are fed to workers from a first-in-first-out (FIFO) pallet flow system featuring components made by Interroll Corp. The system features 228 pallet positions in a rack structure that’s four pallets deep and three tiers high with 19 lanes. Neil Hodgkinson, contract manufacturing engineer for GETRAG Ford, says the system saves space and energy, while increasing productivity.
“It provides compact, space-saving cubic storage, enabling identical products to be grouped in the same lane and bays,” explains Hodgkinson. “This, in turn, simplifies location and order picking of parts to support production of 1,600 to 2,000 gearboxes daily.”
Hodgkinson says the system provides GETRAG with smooth, controlled and even pallet movement, despite the many types of pallets it receives from suppliers. These pallets vary in size, material, weight and base configuration.
For example, European suppliers provide parts on wood pallets measuring 800 by 1,200 millimeters, whereas those from the U.K. measure up to 1,200 by 1,200 millimeters. Some plastic pallets feature bases with three runners, and others are designed with nine raised molded feet. Weight of the pallets ranges from 600 to 1,000 kilograms.
Before installing the system in March 2014, GETRAG sent a variety of pallets to Interroll’s Centre of Excellence for Dynamic Storage testing facility in La Roche sur Yon, France.
Interroll conveyed GETRAG’s individual pallet types and loads on roller test tracks under controlled conditions, at an ambient temperature. These tests focused on slope gradient, controlled speed of descent, online separation and the restart of standing pallet loads.
After the trials, Interroll determined that the system required standard lanes with 60-millimeter-diameter rollers at a 78-millimeter pitch. Speed controllers keep pallets moving at 0.3 meter per second, regardless of weight. System rollers are knurled in three strategic positions across their width to provide a positive surface grip until the end stop.
FIFO lanes feature 1,250-millimeter-wide rollers that handle all 1,200-by-1,200-millimeter wooden pallets. The system also features a safety separator function, which provides forklift operators the necessary time to unload a pallet safely before another pallet is released.
For more information on pallet storage components, call 800-830-9028 or visit www.interroll.us.