Elevating Operations for a Warehouse in France: TCP/IP Integration


Company Overview

Our Client is an International supplier of packaging that produces paper, corrugated, and compact cardboard packaging. The team consists of more than 6.500 people spread over 70 plants in 20 countries. They are focused on providing packaging solutions for different sectors, such as food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, electronics, retail, and more. Their product range includes corrugated cardboard boxes, trays, displays, and other customized packaging options. 

The Challenge

Our client owned a warehouse covering approximately 6,000 square meters and a moving speed of about 240 pallets/hour. It was equipped with standard automated machinery such as shuttles, conveyors, label scanners, and robot cranes provided by a famous robotics technology company, a leading provider of robotized solutions. First Line Software’s goal was to enhance mobility and productivity in warehouse operations, in addition to improving the communication between all automated machinery in Client’s warehouse.

Our Approach

After meticulous evaluation, we recommended viadatWMS by viastore for its reputation as a leading WMS solution. While viadatWMS boasts an impressive suite of features out-of-the-box, our client’s manufacturing processes had unique requirements that demanded a tailored approach, thus requiring customization to seamlessly integrate with their specific workflows and enhance overall productivity.

The Solution

During the course of project implementation, our team was tasked with configuring the equipment for a Micro-fulfillment Center (MFC). MFCs are innovative warehousing solutions known for their compact size and efficient storage capacity. While there are no strict guidelines, MFCs typically span an area of 3,000 to 10,000 square feet and can accommodate an impressive range of up to 15,000 different items. The hallmark of MFCs lies in their highly compact design, enabling them to maximize product storage per square meter, far surpassing conventional warehouses.

Our focus during the implementation was to design and configure the equipment in a manner that would ensure optimal space utilization and seamless order fulfillment processes within the constrained area of the Micro-fulfillment Center. 

Data transfer between viadatWMS and PLC (programmable logic controllers) was ingeniously facilitated using the TCP-IP protocol, leveraging the bespoke telegram format defined by global robotics PLC. We used PLC emulation—a powerful tool that replicated the warehouse setup virtually, providing a risk-free environment for testing and fine-tuning. Our solution allowed the Client to experiment with different scenarios, analyze potential outcomes, and identify optimal strategies without any impact on their actual operations. This integration allowed for real-time, accurate data exchange, empowering the warehouse to operate at peak efficiency.

During the implementation, we designed and configured the equipment in a manner that would ensure optimal space utilization and seamless order fulfillment processes within the constrained area of the Micro-fulfillment Center.

The project duration was approximately 22 months, and we conducted testing throughout the entire length of the project to ensure a smooth launch.

First Line Software’s expertise played a pivotal role in configuring the warehouse topology and establishing seamless routing, optimizing the data flow to create a synchronized and cohesive system. By implementing TCP/IP telegrams to control the PLC layer, we ensured reliable and easily maintainable communication mechanisms between the logic of the WMS and the equipment. This also delivered excellent performance and responsiveness to the overall warehouse automation solution.

The Outcome

The strategic partnership between viadatWMS and First Line Software, coupled with technical prowess, resulted in a transformative new warehouse ecosystem for our client. The outcome of our engagement unlocked the true potential of the facility, enabling it to handle diverse tasks with ease and empowering the workforce to achieve remarkable productivity levels.

The advantages of an automated warehouse quickly became evident for our client, and they were able to benefit from:

  • Reduced product damage as a result of the automation, ensuring higher palletizing quality and precise identification of individual pallets. 
  • Enhanced transparency, enabling employees to track the location of each pallet at any given time. 
  • Heightened reliability and efficiency of their overall logistics chain, in comparison to the previous state.
  • Long-term cost savings as external storage areas are phased out
  • Expanded capacity and reduced production limitations

The outcome of this innovative integration was a warehousing environment where operational excellence, precision, and efficiency were elevated to new heights. However, the warehouse’s significance extends beyond financial gains and profit objectives. With foresight, the facility was engineered to accommodate an anticipated 50 percent future growth. Embracing advanced technologies, this implementation stands as a testament to the power of data transfer in modern supply chain management. 

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