Mark Andy, a manufacturer of narrow web printing equipment for the label and packaging markets, has incorporated inventory management software and three vertical lift modules (VLMs) into its manufacturing process. As a result, the company is now better able to manage its inventory while increasing its product capacity, and in addition, it has freed up floor space to add another assembly area.
Mark Andy builds presses by constructing a series of sub-assembly modules that are connected together to create a completed press. By installing inventory software from FastPic and Shuttle VLMs from KardexRemstar, Mark Andy now manages its parts inventory more efficiently.
“We are now able to consolidate and move more parts out to our module areas to support those operations,” manufacturing engineer John Wolf says. “The inventory management software lets us track low usage parts, and parts with zero on hand and no usage. That is information we didn't have in the past, and having it now allows us to more creatively and effectively manage our manufacturing operations.”
With the new software, the system can manage and control inventory while processing transactions in real time. All three VLMs at Mark Andy are linked together as one work zone, and parts for a particular module are stored throughout the three individual units to improve overall storage efficiency. When additional parts are needed, an operator selects the order to process in the software that has been downloaded from an ERP system and the VLMs automatically start to move. Once an order is processed, all three VLM units begin retrieving the required parts simultaneously. When an item is picked, the next item is being delivered to the access window in the VLM and is waiting to be retrieved.
Mark Andy also has two KardexRemstar horizontal carousels to serve as the central distribution point to supply the machine shop and welding work zones. Both the VLMs and the horizontal carousels are controlled by inventory management software and are interfaced with the company’s ERP system.
“When our planners create a job that requires parts from the VLM or horizontal carousels, the ERP system automatically sends that inventory list to the inventory management software,” Wolf explains. “The operator selects the job from a list of orders in the software and it activates the horizontal carousels or VLMs to retrieve the parts required. The software then sends all the transaction information back to the ERP system, processing transactions in real time.”
The addition of the new technology has allowed Mark Andy to free up approximately 1,600 square feet of floor space to use for production, rather than storage. “We found that using the inventory management software and the tray dividers in the VLM trays we significantly increased the storage density and exceeded our 40% objective,” Wolf says. The added capacity has allowed Mark Andy to increase the inventory level of parts for the module assembly operation stored in the VLMs.