Sophisticated intralogistic solution for students from all over the world

Where is the largest German university based? We mean the one with the most students.  The surprising answer is that this university isn’t situated in such large university towns as Munich, Cologne or Frankfurt but is based in the rather tranquil city Hagen in Westphalia.

The university in Hagen is the only German state-controlled distance learning university with 74 000 students from more than 100 countries. The big difference in relation to other universities is that the students are learning at home. Many documents, such as application forms, teaching materials or degrees are sent in paper form by post. Every day several tons paper, up to 10 000 mailings or parcels are leaving the logistic center from the FernUniversität, containing individually configured documents.

This is an enormous challenge for the employees, who are responsible for the picking of the individual and various documents and this means a lot of efforts and long distances that have to be covered.

To meet the continuously growing requirements and to make the picking activities simpler, safer and faster, the FernUniversität Hagen decided in 2013 to purchase a modern picking solution including automatic small parts storage. In 2014, the BSS Materialflussgruppe based in Solingen has been awarded the contract to provide and construct this turnkey system and to provide the technical support in the subsequent years.

Until this time, the employees from the FernUniversität had to pick all documents manually and often had to walk long ways to complete the parcels – this meant a really considerable challenge, because that all had to be made within a certain time limit to ensure timely shipment. Even minor delays can have significant consequences for the students who get the learning material in paper form and have to meet examination deadlines.

“The quantity of parcels and the requirements for a flexible provisioning will significantly increase in the next years, corresponding to the expectations regarding a modern distance learning system“, said Prof. Dr.-ing. Helmut Hoyer, rector of the FernUniversität in Hagen. “Our actual logistic center would then run up against its limits”.

„We decided to contract BSS because its solution is the best adapted to our requirements, enables optimum space utilization and offers ergonomically optimized workplaces “, said Petra Hohmann, councilor for media administration at the logistic center from the FernUniversität Hagen. Actually a small part warehouse is under construction, its dimensions are 36m length, 8m width and 9m high and it is conceived for double deep storage of document boxes. This three lanes storage system including almost 20.000 storage spaces will be constructed in an existing warehouse.  The small part warehouse contains plastic trays with a full-weight of maximum 11 kg. A manual transport and handling of those trays over the next years wouldn’t be a back-friendly working.

Core of the facility are the ergonomically optimized picking areas in the three gripping zones. They include height-adjustable sliding platforms and can be adjusted depending of the body size of the employees.  All plastic trays will be exactly transported into the gripping zone and will be picked up there again.  This means an important relieving for the employees who don’t need to bend down anymore or to carry some heavy parcels. Using modern RFID-tags (radio frequency identification), the trays will be transported reliably and directly via conveyors to their destination.

Further, the noise level could be reduced thanks to a low-noise and energy-saving  low-voltage conveyor drive technology.

Warehouse management and flow management are SAP-EWM based and also part of the SAP platform of the FernUniversität.

The new system will be taken into service in February 2015.


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