Schmidt Groupe Finds a Better Solution for Packaged Furniture Handling
Founded in 1934 and formerly known as Groupe SALM, or Société Alsacienne de Meuble (Alsatian Furniture Group), Schmidt Groupe is France’s leading manufacturer of kitchen furniture. The company produces and ships a wide range of products from its headquarters in Lièpvre. Though the Wardrobes and Specific Furniture department had previously filled approximately 350 orders per day, continued growth had pushed that to 450 per day.
With rapid growth came challenges. The plant previously relied on a series of roller conveyors with pop-up chain diverts to transport and handle boxed furniture. This equipment could not keep pace with the increased demand. Also, it was expensive, required a great deal of maintenance, and did not meet the company’s safety standards due to the number of pinch points and moving parts in the system.
Plant officials sought a fully reliable process-flow solution that could merge from two different lines using 90-degree transfers. They also wanted to achieve a 40-second cycle time to keep up with increasing capacity. Representatives from Intralox proposed a solution using Intralox Activated Roller Belt (ARB) technology, a patented conveyance solution that brings the benefits of modular plastic belting to complex package handling processes. The result is automated conveyance that enables critical improvements where previously cost prohibitive or overly complex.
The solution proposed for Schmidt Groupe included Intralox Series 4500 belting and three Intralox Dual-Stacked Angled Roller Belt (DARB) passive conveyors*. When compared against alternatives (e.g., pop-up chain systems), the Intralox solution was less expensive, took up less space, required significantly less maintenance, and had a faster cycle time. In addition, the ARB conveyors’ flat surfaces promised more safety than competitors’ offerings. Intralox representatives and engineers worked closely with plant officials to ensure the ARB conveyors would smoothly transport tall furniture boxes.
Since its installation in August 2016, the Intralox ARB solution has proven to be a total success. Cycle time on the product elevator has reached 35 seconds—5 seconds (13%) faster than the plant’s original goal. This improvement in cycle time has helped the plant achieve higher throughput levels, and therefore reach its increased production targets. The technology has proven its reliability in addition to being less expensive, saving floor space, and enhancing safety.
Schmidt Groupe plans to replicate the ARB solution in every plant with this application, many of which are currently experiencing the same issues as the Lièpvre facility.
*DARB conveyors are part of the ARB equipment line.