Automatic warehouses, the intelligent warehouses of the future

Back in 2005, ULMA Forja undertook an ambitious investment plan to fulfill on the goals set forth in the company’s strategic plan.

The aim of this project was to strengthen our leadership in the distribution channel and to take on new sales channels, such as the large Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies specialized in turnkey projects for large facilities in the Oil & Gas industry.

The new logistics needs of the forging industry

There were many technical challenges presented by the idea of expanding the product range into forged flanges made of different steels and custom-sized forgings.

The new facilities in the areas of forging, heat treatment, machining and the laboratory went together with a complementary project: the creation of an automatic warehouse that responded to new logistical needs that a conventional warehouse could not fulfill.

Difficulties associated with building a high-rack warehouse

ULMA Forja awarded the project for the new shipping area to another company in our same group, ULMA Handling Systems, S. Coop., which designed both the structure of the high-rack warehouse and its operations, as well as the surrounding work stations where the shipments are prepared.

There were numerous challenges: the adjacent properties and river limiting the available area, the heavy loads to be handled, the tremendous variety of sizes, and a complex inventory control system based on many different product parameters being just a few.

Has having an automatic warehouse helped ULMA achieve its goals?

The automatic warehouse rounded out ULMA Forja’s strategic investement plan by rationalizing internal production flows, optimizing resources, eliminating potential safety risks and speeding up the preparation of shipments.

Without this facility, the dramatic increases in turnover of the following years would not have been possible. This expansion saw ULMA not only producing more, but also expanding its range and meeting the emerging demands of the new sales channels.

The intelligent warehouse improves the traceability and regulation of materials

Thanks to its substantial storage capacity, our automatic warehouse can also function as a buffer warehouse for the inspection area, making pieces available as required in the inspection schedule and optimizing the space requirements for this activity.

Our intelligent warehouse also contributed to improvements in other vital areas such as traceability and the increase of capacity with respect to previous manufacturing ratios.

Our present workflow at ULMA Forged Solutions now takes full advantage of the many possibilities offered by this warehouse, bringing us closer to our clients and better able to meet their specific needs.