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VVA significantly expands order picking capacities through innovative automation



The VVA Group, part of Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, has modernized and expanded its distribution centre in Guetersloh during ongoing operations. An automated shuttle warehouse with order picking system has been built in the existing facility by long-time partner SSI Schäfer in a limited space, expanding the capacity in the area of immediately available item containers to a total of more than 60,000 spaces. At the same time, the new shuttle solution is a further step in the digital strategy with which Arvato is currently driving forward the automation of its worldwide locations.

The trigger for the capacity expansion was, on the one hand, the business growth of VVA (Vereinigte Verlagsauslieferung) in recent years. On the other hand, the business is characterized by a significant increase in picking intensity. As a partner and service provider, the company delivers media products from its three German locations in Guetersloh, Verl and Gilching to retailers and end consumers worldwide for more than 200 clients. In the central logistics centre in Guetersloh alone, about 70,000 different items are stored – in addition to books, CDs and DVDs, also magazines, calendars as well as stationery and toys. “With our existing system, which is already designed for very high performance, we have now reached the limits of our capacity,” explains Harald Horstmann, Vice President Publisher at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions. “We wanted to continue using the existing system and not invest in a completely new solution. That’s why we decided to modernize and expand together with SSI Schäfer.”

The intralogistics specialist, who had already installed the existing system in 2006, met the high requirements best. A storage and order-picking system for a throughput of 16 million articles per year was realized on an area of only 900 square meters. A highly dynamic modular shuttle system with approx. 40,000 bin locations was developed. The new shuttle warehouse is located in a 24-metre high extension directly next to the existing 60,000-pallet high-bay warehouse and is designed according to the patented 3D-Matrix Solution® from SSI Schäfer. By installing the workstations on the warehouse cube at a height of 16 meters, it was possible to realize an optimal use of space. A total of 84 SSI Flexi single-level shuttles ensure efficient storage and retrieval processes and 20 integrated lifts enable fast material flows on the vertical system level. By integrating the system into the warehouse cube, the number of lifts and thus the performance could be increased compared to conventional solutions. Each workstation has access to the entire article spectrum of the 3D-Matrix Solution® and thus enables a one-stop pick solution according to the latest ergonomic standards. In total, the new system expands the capacities in the area of automatically immediately available article containers to more than 60,000 places. At the same time, the number of goods-to-person picking stations is increased by 60 per cent.

Installation during operation

A particular challenge was the system expansion during ongoing operation, which took place in three steps: First, the order start in the old system had to be relocated and further automated. In a second step, the direct conveyor connection of the fully automated high-bay warehouse to the existing and future storage and order-picking systems took place. The third and most important project step was the construction of the shuttle warehouse including the connected workstations. Business was not affected by the project work at any time.

The system has already passed its first test. Due to the special Corona situation and also numerous top titles in the Christmas business, the high demand for books at the end of last year led to the largest order volumes at VVA since the company was founded. In some cases, even the newly created capacities were completely utilized. Nevertheless, VVA was able to maintain the highest level of delivery reliability. If the trend continues, VVA will be able to expand flexibly thanks to the forward-looking, scalable solution,” confirms Stephan Schierke, President Publisher at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions.

Ergonomics and social responsibility

Arvato Supply Chain Solutions placed particular emphasis on the ergonomics of the workstations. Together with SSI Schäfer and the start-up Cellumation, new types of workstations were developed in which, among other things, source and destination containers are served on one level. The new workstations in the shuttle warehouse are multifunctional and, in addition to order compilation, also enable the return sortation of returns. The workstations are also characterized by individually adjustable working heights, ergonomic arrangement of the operating elements, touch-friendly materials, optimal presentation of information and innovative lighting systems.


The most common conveyor belt issues and how to prevent them



Like any type of machinery, conveyor belt systems will eventually experience issues from time to time. Regardless of how well-maintained conveyor belt parts are, it’s normal to face problems, especially given that conveyor belts are one of the most used pieces of equipment across many industries.

While some problems are bound to happen, there are ways to prevent common issues and extend the life of your conveyor belt parts. Below are some of the most common conveyor belt problems and ways to prevent them.

Material spillage

Material accidentally sliding, rolling, or spilling over is inevitable, especially for productions that move a lot of loose or heavy products. However, if your conveyor system is experiencing an increase in spillage incidents, it could be an issue with areas that are causing excess shaking or rattling.

To prevent material spillage, be sure to keep your conveyor system well-maintained. Clean the conveyor belt and parts regularly and consider installing impact beds.

Seized rollers

Excessive material spillage is the most common cause of seized rollers, which can halt production altogether. To prevent this downtime, we recommend installing Luff’s patented High Moisture Seal & Anti-Lock Shield. This polymer disc sits inside the end cap and remains stationary as the roller rotates around it, allowing the roller to turn freely, even with material built up between the roller end and the conveyor idler.

In addition to Luff’s High Moisture Seal & Anti-Lock Shield, you can prevent seized rollers by carefully inspecting them on a regular basis. This should be part of your regular maintenance routine.

Material blockage

Material blockage can happen due to wear and tear on the conveyor belt, sharp edges, and weak points in the system. When blockages happen, they can cause the conveyor belt to simply stop moving.

To avoid this issue, again be sure to keep a well-maintained system. Inspect your conveyor belt for any holes, weak points, and sharp edges that could potentially cause a blockage and have them repaired as soon as possible. Another solution to prevent material blockage is to install guide rollers which help reduce the chance of severe belt damage from sharp edges.

Mistracked conveyor belt

Mistracking happens when the belt moves too far to one side, which can lead to material spillage, material blockage, and cause premature wear on other conveyor belt parts. A mistracked conveyor can throw off the entire system The best way to prevent a mistracked conveyor is to have inspections and adjustments done on a regular basis. If you notice small signs of misalignment such as uneven belt wear, address them immediately before they become bigger problems.

To sum it up, some of the most seemingly small issues can turn into bigger problems that can halt operations. These common issues can be prevented and solved with simple conveyor belt parts and accessories.


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Plastic load carriers from the automotive specialist



A trouble-free internal material flow is one of the essential factors for efficient production of components for the automotive industry. Errors and faults in transport and storage systems result in time-consuming and costly interruptions. The Craemer Group, internationally established supplier to the automotive industry, is one of the leading manufacturers with large-scale production of automotive modules made of metal and large-volume load carriers made of plastic.

The automotive expertise of the Germany-based Craemer Group founded in 1912 has contributed to the development and production of injection-moulded load carriers made of sturdy plastic. Versatile plastic pallets and pallet boxes from Craemer reliably reduce downtime in the automotive and supplier industries.

Special plastic load carriers for customised applications

For more than 50 years Craemer has been developing and manufacturing durable pallets made of high-quality polyethylene (PE). Today, the extensive portfolio includes half pallets, Euro pallets and industrial pallets for a wide range of applications. One example from the company’s portfolio is the D1 plastic pallet with its 22-millimetre rim: It is specially designed for the automotive and supplier industry and ensures high load security when used with small load carriers (SLC) and clear packaging (blisters). Unlike wooden pallets, box elements can be transported precisely and safely, without strapping and fastening, thanks to the edge system.

Thanks to their 22-millimetre outer rims, the CS plastic pallets in Euro format and industrial sizes are also ideally suited for use with SLC. The ESD (electrostatic discharge) variants of the CS pallets are made of conductive material and protect sensitive components from uncontrolled electrostatic discharge. The CS pallet is optionally available with Palgrip® anti-slip runners.

The CR plastic pallets are ideal for heavy loads. They permit versatile solutions thanks to a load capacity of up to 1750 kilograms and an anti-slip coating on the deck which makes them ideal for high rack warehouses. On the other hand, Craemer H and TC pallets offer optimum hygiene conditions for sensitive processes. The H model is also available in a conductive version. The pallet portfolio for the automotive and supplier industry is complemented by the lightweight SL pallet in Euro format with an overall height of only 120 millimetres.

Safe transport and easier handling of commodities

For the automotive industry, particularly impact-resistant and splinter-proof pallet lids are an ideal complement to Craemer plastic pallets. They are available in Euro format and industrial sizes and are suitable for all common returnable containers (such as SLC). Thanks to their precise fit they close perfectly flush. Integrated strapping grooves and locks on the short sides of the lid optimise the load security of sensitive commodities. As conductive ESD variants, they also reliably protect electrostatically sensitive components from uncontrolled discharges.

Other products of the Craemer automotive range: CB pallet boxes. Thanks to the one-piece injection-moulded production and their sturdy construction, these large load carriers made from PE convince with their high resistance and long service life. They are available in Euro format and industrial sizes. In addition, they are UN-certified and thus approved for the transport and storage of hazardous goods. Precisely fitting lids are available as additional accessories. With its complete portfolio of load carriers and accessories, the Craemer Group supports safe transport and storage processes in the automotive industry.

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Mondi partners with Heiber + Schröder to launch the new high-performance machine eComPack for automated packaging of its EnvelopeMailer for eCommerce




Heiber + Schröder’s mechanical engineering combined with Mondi’s packaging and paper expertise enables eCommerce companies to automate the erecting, filling and closing packaging process using the EnvelopeMailer solution he state-of-the-art eComPack doubles output per hour, responding to demand for the automation of paper-based packaging solutions in eCommerce operations

The state-of-the-art eComPack doubles output per hour, responding to demand for the automation of paper-based packaging solutions in eCommerce operations

The new machine perfectly complements Mondi’s universal and fully recyclable corrugated EnvelopeMailer for maximum performance

Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper, has worked on an innovative collaboration with German machine producer Heiber + Schröder to create a high-speed automated packaging machine that meets the process, efficiency and safety requirements of eCommerce fulfilment operations. The new eComPack machine is designed for mid to large size eCommerce operations seeking efficiency and reliability. It can process up to 500 parcels per hour thanks to an automated erecting, filling and closing process.

The technological expertise of paper and board packaging automation expert Heiber + Schröder forms a perfect synergy with Mondi’s innovative packaging solutions. The resulting high-output eComPack can automatically process a wide scope of goods using one height-adaptable packaging design that is available in different sizes. The equipment stands out for its compact floor space requirement and simplicity in operation and maintenance.

In the rapidly growing world of eCommerce, the combination of an excellent paper-based product and an efficient and economic automated packaging machine is a key differentiator for our customers. The successful introduction of Mondi’s EnvelopeMailer solution increased manual packaging output by 8% compared to standard C-folder packaging. With eComPack, we are now enabling our customers to double their output and optimise packing operations in fulfilment centres handling high volumes,

Tarik Aniba, Sales & Marketing Director, Mondi Corrugated Solutions

The eCommerce market has grown significantly in recent years, accounting for approximately 20% of global retail sales in 2021¹. This means a wider variety of goods is being distributed, which increases packing complexity and requires versatile packaging solutions of different sizes and shapes. At the same time, with the rising cost of labour, the desire for packing machines in eCommerce is more prominent than ever before. To help customers tackle these challenges, eComPack provides a solution dedicated to the automated packaging of Mondi’s corrugated eCommerce solution EnvelopeMailer.

Made to safely fit single or multiple items and rectangular as well as irregular shapes up to 7 cm in height, the EnvelopeMailer’s flexibility in the fulfilment process, efficiency in handling, and economical use of material and space have made it an all-around new standard in the market since its launch in 2020.

André Garmer, Managing Director Heiber + Schröder, adds: “Together with Mondi we developed the machine in a very dynamic co-creation process. The result is a robust, user-friendly machine with top-class usability. Through clever and responsible creation, we were able to synchronise packaging design and machine functionality into a solution that offers tremendous potential if combined with the right packaging solution.”

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