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JD Williams now uses Leuze’s Rod 4 laser area scanners at its distribution warehouse to eliminate the potential for picked items to be ‘lost’ at final discharge and transfer to the packaging stations.

Rod 4 laser area scanners are typically used for scanning profiles to establish dimensions.

JD Williams’ distribution warehouse was already using more than 400 optical scanners and sensors from Leuze.

The newly introduced Rod 4 scanners have helped the company to track potentially lost items and reroute them for entry into the sort path.

‘The scanners have paid for themselves in just three months, dramatically reducing the number of items that need to be traced manually to around one per cent, compared with 10 per cent prior to fitting the Leuze scanners,’ said Ron Rutter, maintenance team leader.

Leuze optical sensing technology is improving the overall efficiency of the warehouse and the diversity of applications, including data transmission in the high bay warehouse, barcode scanning for stock verification from suppliers and location allocation.

The Ethernet-ready Rod 4 scanner was brought into the warehouse to eliminate a situation where tote bins that did not empty their entire picked loads would still be free to automatically be sent back to take up position in a new order-pick cycle.

Only later would an alert be raised; items would be arriving at the final packaging station not correlating with the actual pick list.

A manual search to locate bins with the items would be required.

Items that occasionally remain in the bin tend to be slim packs such as ladies’ tights; the reason may be an ill-fitting adhesive label attaching the pack to the side of the bin.

Two Leuze Rod 4 optical scanners are included in the tote-bin return path immediately after the discharge point.

Tote bins are tilted through 160deg, emptying their contents for final transfer to the packing stations.

After righting, they are conveyed on one of two lines back into the order pick process but not before passing beneath a Rod 4 scanner.

This can be programmed to sweep a 2D arc up to 190deg, permitting the width, contour and position of an object to be detected.

At JD Williams, both scanners are connected to a S7 300 PLC and operator panel designed and built by Rutter, Steve Whitmore and Dave Eyres from the maintenance department.

The system shows the number of boxes scanned and errors found; this is then integrated into the order picking control system.

The scanners sweep the internal dimensions of every tote bin.

Any foreign objects are automatically detected and the bin is sidelined for the item to be removed and returned to final packing stations.

Since the introduction of Leuze’s Rod 4 scanner, the potential for lost items has nearly been eliminated.

JD Williams, based in Oldham, handles more than 150,000 items per day.

The company’s home-delivery service relies on an efficient handling system that can track new orders from pick to despatch as well as a returns department where items are inspected and then only returned into the pick bays or bulk store.

The high operational efficiency calls for a reliable sensing capability, automating as many processes as possible.

To achieve this, more than 300 Leuze scanners and barcode readers are deployed throughout the distribution centre.

As boxed items arrive from suppliers, they feed through an enclosed twin-roller conveyor delivery system.

Leuze BCL 80 barcode scanners precisely read the attached barcode to identify content and ensure that it correlates with the expected delivery.

Each carton is held on a slim tray, which also carries barcoded data.

During this initial stage, the boxed content and tray are married for onward tracking and location placement.

Fast-moving items are sent to bulk storage racks for simple pick while the majority of items are held in a 32-aisle, high-bay warehouse with 400,000 individual store locations.

Information to each automated crane is sent using Leuze optical data transmission systems such as the DDLS 200.

Leuze’s optical data transmission technology in warehouses reduces maintenance thanks to contact-free communications, eliminates hard-wiring to cab-mounted controls and offers low interference susceptibility to noise from light sources.

These latest developments are network ready with built-in Profibus connectivity and offer a 500m range with fast data transfer rates of up to 2Mbit/s.

A patented feature of the design enables a single person to install and align the units.

The transfer of data to and from stacker cranes operates in automated storage and retrieval (ASR) applications.

The DDLS 200 devices negate problems associated with wear and tear caused by continual crane travel, thus eliminating downtime and costly repairs.

Each crane can pick and hold cartons from two different locations.

To ensure complete control and identification, two Leuze BCL 40 barcode readers are mounted alongside the handling device to log what has been collected.

At discharge, the trays/boxes are transferred by roller conveyor to a number of locations, such as the bulk store, straight to final despatch; alternatively, they are sent to replenish the many manual pick locations.

In using the Leuze BCL 40, JD Williams has units designed to read codes close-up.

From a distance as small as 10mm, the scanning field covers a beam angle of 70mm, which widens with increasing distance.

The BCL 40 is a compact unit, complete with an integrated decoder, measuring 43mm in depth, 120mm in height and 90mm in width.

Once trays and cartons leave the high bay or during their route direct to pick face, the transfer cycles are controlled via strategically positioned BCL 40 barcode readers, tracking cartons by reading the code on the slim carrier tray.

Throughout the movement of cartons, each is held on a slim tray, which is used to identify and track movement.

Identifying barcodes are positioned on the very slim edge of the plastic tray and this runs parallel to the conveyor’s rollers.

The potential for an incorrect reading, and the subsequent tracking of a tray and its load, was said to be huge because of the code location.

The chosen barcode reader must have the technological capability of being mounted sufficiently high above the conveyor so as not to inhibit carton flow yet have a powerful focal length to accurately read the ID code, which is virtually out of sight on the transport tray.

For this application, Fulfilment Logistics chose the Leuze BCL 80 series.

It was suitable for the applications at the Oldham site thanks to the extra-long scanning distances of up to 2,400mm and wide depth of focus, enabling it to quickly and accurately read the ID labels on the narrow trays.

The BCL 80 is supplied as standard with a capacity for 600 scans per second, although versions are available to accommodate applications with requirements of between 400 and 800 scans per second.

The BCL 80 barcode reader can also detect and signal deterioration in label quality.

The long-term operation of label printers and the use of soiled or damaged labels mean impaired contrast between the label and the barcode.

The ability to recognise such situations allows preventative action to be taken, averting potential costly remedial action such as re-labelling.

Leuze Electronic

Leuze electronic the ‘sensor people’ are committed to being the supplier of choice by providing the best customer service and products.

Leuze electronic the ‘sensor people’ are committed to being the supplier of choice by providing the best customer service and products.

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