Storage & Picking Solution Ensures Optimal Performance in Limited Space

Success story Arvato Supply Chain Solutions: a space-saving and future-oriented approach to modernize and expand the existing system

In order to cope in the long term with the rapid business growth of the Vereinigte Verlagsauslieferung (VVA) as part of Arvato Supply Chain Solutions (SCS) at the Gütersloh site (Germany), solutions provider and longstanding partner SSI SCHAEFER modernized and expanded the distribution center during operation in 2019. SSI SCHAEFER used the limited space in the existing system to establish an innovative, highly dynamic, and sustainable storage and picking system, enabling a significant expansion of picking capacity within the bottleneck areas of the publishing supply.

Be it books for children or teens, novels, biographies, art books, or specialist literature – demand for books remains high. That much is clear given the business growth of the VVA in recent years. The publishing supplier reached its limits in terms of performance and capacity at the site in Gütersloh and so the decision was made to modernize and expand the existing system together with SSI SCHAEFER. In the central logistics center of the Bertelsmann subsidiary in Gütersloh alone, there are around 70,000 different items in storage – for example

  • books,

  • CDs, and DVDs,

  • magazines,

  • calendars,

  • stationery,

  • toys.

Alongside conventional logistics services such as warehousing, picking, transport management, and comprehensive value-added services, Arvato SCS develops and operates complex global supply chains, e-commerce and IT platforms, omnichannel solutions, and digital distribution models for its customers.  

As a global solutions provider of modular warehouse and logistics systems, SSI SCHAEFER has been a reliable partner since 2006, when they were responsible for the automation project in Gütersloh.

With its patented 3D-MATRIX Solution® SSI SCHAEFER was the only company able to implement an innovative and powerful solution in combination with optimal space utilization for the forthcoming expansion – a storage and picking system spread across just 900 m² with a technical performance of around 16 million books per year. The integrated goods-to-person picking stations are subject to the highest ergonomic standards. The system can also be flexibly adapted and expanded in the future to meet changing market requirements.


Existing material handling systems, processes, and material flows should be maintained from a sustainability perspective. "In addition to the optimal usage of existing premises, it was a matter of planning the expansion in a way that ensured it could take place during active operation. It was vital that our business wasn't impaired at any point," says Harald Horstmann, outlining one of the most significant challenges of the project.

The project was executed in three steps:

  1. To be able to implement the planned expansions, the order start in the old system first had to be transferred and automated extensively.

  2. Then the direct conveying system connection to the fully automated high bay warehouse was established for both the existing and future storage and picking systems.

  3. The third and most important project step was finally the construction of the shuttle warehouse including the accompanying work stations.

"Together with the VVA, we primarily implemented the physical integration and tests in combination with the new system at weekends and we did the same for the construction, the renovation, and the addition to the conveying system, too," recalls Martin Nagler, Project Manager from SSI SCHAEFER.

SSI SCHAEFER developed a modular concept of a highly dynamic system solution for Arvato SCS.

"The storage cube for the new shuttle warehouse is located in a 24-meter-high extension of the high bay warehouse and has been designed using the patented 3D-MATRIX Solution from SSI SCHAEFER. This gives Arvato SCS a future-proof solution for automated storage, buffering, and integrated sequencing of order processing. For instance, decoupling individual processes along the horizontal and vertical axes prevents bottlenecks during storage and retrieval," explains Martin Nagler from SSI SCHAEFER.

Now, 84 integrated SSI Flexi type single-level shuttles facilitate efficient storage and retrieval processes. 20 integrated lifts ensure fast material flows on the vertical system level. The system expands the capacities of Arvato SCS in automated storage containers available on an ad-hoc basis to a total of more than 60,000 locations and boosts the number of goods-to-person picking stations by 60%. This gives every work station access to the entire range of items from the 3D-MATRIX Solution. As many as four orders per station can be picked at once directly into shipping cartons, as per the one-stop-pick solution. If an order can be finished in this area, it will then be transported directly to the order dispatch area. Here, the employee prints the order papers, fills the empty space in the carton with packing material, and attaches the shipping label to the carton, which is then transported to goods-out on the conveying section. This enables short order cycle times.

"It's a solution that guarantees us maximum flexibility and performance. This is where SSI SCHAEFER offered us something truly unique, with the optimal performance-to-space ratio. We were able to achieve our aims of boosting productivity and technical performance thanks to the innovative and, above all, space-saving warehouse solution," summarizes Harald Horstmann with satisfaction.

The expansion of the existing logistics system is the follow-up project to an automation solution that SSI SCHAEFER implemented for the VVA back in 2006.

At that time, the following solutions were built in Gütersloh:
-    a 4-aisle automated small parts warehouse (ASPW) with 24,000 container storage locations
-    a static rack system with 14,000 storage locations
-    24 SSI Carousel systems with around 26,000 container storage locations for highly dynamic individual parts picking

"The tailor-made high-performance system with its ergonomic goods-to-person picking stations has proven its worth over the course of 14 years and has evolved with the challenges and our business. However, due to the business development in recent years, we needed to expand the picking section for B- and C-items in particular. Based on our longstanding partnership, SSI SCHAEFER was able to implement an optimized, future-proof, and energy-efficient solution to improve space efficiency, capacity, and performance”, explains Harald Horstmann.

In addition to the performance and flexibility of the system, there was a focus on the ergonomics of the work stations. The VVA has developed a corresponding concept together with its employees, SSI SCHAEFER, the Technical University of Darmstadt, and the start-up cellumation. The solution comprises special work stations to which source and target containers can be delivered on one level and from which pickers can process orders ergonomically. The new work stations on the shuttle warehouse are multifunctional and, in addition to order compilation, enable returned goods to be re-sorted. To further boost the ergonomics and optimize the working environment, the partners also make use of the solution's individually adjustable working heights, ergonomic arrangement of the widgets, optimal presentation of the information, and touch-friendly materials.

"As part of our social responsibility, we wanted to put in place optimal ergonomics and create the nicest possible working environment. After all, what's the point of having a powerful system if employees get tired quickly or their health is at risk? We're even breaking new ground when it comes to lighting; the light color adapts to the circadian rhythm," says Harald Horstmann.


Spectacular insight into the project

"The central elements of innovation and sustainability are reflected in this jointly developed solution: flexible, powerful, future-proof, space-saving, energy-efficient, and ergonomic – these are all target attributes that we managed to successfully combine," says Harald Horstmann.


Reference Arvato Supply Chain Solutions, Germany

System Extension with Innovative Storage and Picking Solution for Powerful Publishing Supply

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Highlight products of the solution at Arvato SCS

3D-Matrix Solution

3D-MATRIX Solution®

With the innovative, patented concept of the 3D-MATRIX Solution®,
SSI SCHAEFER offers a highly dynamic system solution for the storage and picking of containers, cartons, trays, layer trays and pallets. The unique combination offers you maximum flexibility and future-oriented scalability.
Work Station

Work Stations - ergonomics@work!®

Ergonomic work stations for warehouses and operations: With ergonomics@work!® from incoming goods to returns processing.
SSI Flexi Shuttle

SSI Flexi

The scalable single-level shuttle designed for use in highly dynamic automated miniload systems with dynamically adaptable storage location sizes to store a wide variety of transport units of up to 50 kg.


The reference shows that sustainable, efficient solutions are clearly gaining relevance - at Arvato SCS, some of the existing systems have been running since 2006. Find out more about the sustainable solutions offered by SSI SCHAEFER here.

Green Logistics by SSI Schäfer
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