Honeycomb Storage Systems Allow High Storage Density & Rapid Access Times

  • Monday, 22 May 2017 00:00

How has adopting an automated storage system improved access and delivery times for an Australian steel producer?

The steel producer and wholesaler OneSteel supplies a number of branch sites and numerous customers throughout the state from its distribution centre in Perth, Western Australia.

The company uses an automated storage system from Kasto for the handling and transparent management of its extensive range of cylindrical, rod and pipe materials. Called the Unicompact, the honeycomb storage system has high storage density, rapid access times and continuous traceability of the metal bar stock.

Transparent, Efficient Storage


Approximately 8,000 tonnes of different types of steel products
await delivery to construction companies, shipyards, or
mechanical and plant engineering companies or are earmarked
for shipment to the enterprise's many branches.

With OneSteel being a specialist part of the Arrium Mining & Materials Group, it covers all the associated process steps in-house–from the mining of the iron ore through the metallurgical steps, casting and forming, and on to distribution and sales. OneSteel Metalcentre possesses 50 sites across the country, has a workforce of some 850 employees and achieves an annual turnover of more than AU$700 million (US$534.6 million).

The distribution centre in the Western Australian capital Perth is vital for the company. From here, OneSteel Metalcentre supplies not only numerous customers but also a number of branches throughout the state.

Here, approximately 8,000 tonnes of different types of steel products await delivery to construction companies, shipyards, or mechanical and plant engineering companies, or are earmarked for shipment to the company’s many branch sites.

“We do not just deliver differing quantities but also supply our products just-in-time if required. Transparent, efficient storage operations are therefore absolutely vital to us,” explains Andrew Cosgrove, national operations manager at OneSteel.

High Capacity In A Small Area


The bar stock is stored in a Unicompact honeycomb storage
system with 2,272 cassette locations.

OneSteel Metalcentre obtains the steel from its own plants—much of it in the form of cylindrical, rod and pipe material, which is then stored in the honeycomb storage system. The bar stock is moved and stored on auxiliary load carriers, so-called system cassettes.

The warehouse at OneSteel has 2,272 cassette locations. Each cassette accommodates loads up to five tonnes and is suitable for material with a length of up to nine metres.

“In total, almost 4,000 tonnes of steel, subdivided into some 700 different item types, are stored in the honeycomb system,” said Mr Cosgrove. Despite this, the height and design of the honeycomb store mean that it covers a relatively small area.

“Compared to conventional storage methods, the Unicompact provides a very high storage density—which, for us, means shorter transport paths and more space for additional material or additional process steps,” said Mr Cosgrove.

The new storage system has also reduced access times. The material is loaded and unloaded from the store fully automatically using a storage and retrieval machine (SRM). The bar stock is sent to the picking area at the press of a button in accordance with the “goods-to-person” principle—a solution that is faster than in conventional floor and cantilever arm storage systems.

Mr Cosgrove also explained that working in the warehouse has become simpler and the process more reliable thanks to the automatic system. While the equipment carries out the laborious loading and unloading of the store virtually by itself, the employees have more time for other tasks.

Modern Warehouse Management


Warehouse management software assists in efficient and
transparent material flow.

The storage system also utilises warehouse management software, called Kastolvr. The system controls all processes in the warehouse and gives the user an overview of orders and stock levels, as well as simplifying the task of combining the items required for each specific order.

If additional capacity should be necessary in the future, the modular storage system can be modified and extended to meet future requirements.

APMEN Feature, Apr 2017

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  • Last modified on Tuesday, 23 May 2017 03:42
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