Logistics News

Simulator takes guess work out of DC design

Forklift manufacturer Yale has developed warehouse simulation software designed to provide operators of medium to large warehouses with a sophisticated consultancy solution

July 10, 2012

Forklift manufacturer Yale has developed an extremely accurate warehouse simulator designed to provide operators of medium to large warehouses with a sophisticated consultancy solution.

The software can show how a particular forklift fleet in a particular warehouse scenario will perform and provides a platform for trying out different approaches and strategies for a warehouse operation.

The program uses the same simulation ‘engine’ used by major European airports, leading rail infrastructure companies and other blue-chip organisations.

The input interface breaks down the sections of the largest warehouse into atomic parts including marshalling, parking and staging areas, the exact type of racking, storage and the fleet to be used.

More than 100 different models of Yale forklifts are used so the customer can see the impact of different forklift types and performance issues such as forklift speed.

Racking and storage variables include; selective, double-deep, block-stack, drive-in and staging/marshalling, while goods flow scenarios include in/out-bound flow and frequency, order-picking and replenishment, and wave and batch picking.

Customers can experiment with different layouts, racking configurations and timings and overlay with different forklift options like reach trucks.

They can they see a visual representation of all scenarios in 2D and 3D as well as analyse data using graphical results and charts.

It will also provide indicative cost information.

Yale says the simulation won’t provide the ultimate answer, but the results can be used to make informed business decisions. The results obtained from running a simulation include:

  • Time spent handling loads
  • Idle/utilisation times
  • Utilisation of staging areas, racking and doors/docks
  • Hourly flow rates into and out of racking, staging areas and docks/doors
  • Visual indication of bottlenecks
  • Energy consumption and indication of battery charging and changing.

The simulation software was recently used to help determine the optimum design and equipment required for one of the largest warehouses in the Middle East – a 375,000-square-feet facility at Jabel Ali South, Dubai, operated by Clarion Integrated Logistics Solutions.

Yale was involved with the Dubai development from the earliest planning stages, when Clarion needed to know the maximum number of pallets that could be stored and moved within the available space.

To illustrate the potential capacity of the facility the simulation software was used to show how the maximum efficiency could be achieved.

Using six Yale very narrow aisle high-level order pickers (MTC) trucks, combined with six counterbalance trucks on a wire guided system, the software showed that approximately 190 pallet movements per hour could be achieved. Within three hours the simulation identified a congestion issue in the picking operations, thereby helping to provide Clarion with a clear picture of their requirements.

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