Canon SattStore

Canon's European Spare Parts Center is up-to-date

At the end of 1996 Canon's European Spare Parts Center in the Dutch city of Schiphol-Rijk (near the well known airfield Schiphol Amsterdam) started to use Consafe Logistics' WMS SattStore. The implementation of SattStore was the result of a new logistics concept, in which Canon's fast moving spare parts no longer were picked from the existing miniload but from shelves two racks high. It's slow- and midrange moving spare parts (with small measurements) were put into the miniload because of its larger stock possibilities. Canon's Spare Parts Center moved from automatic picking to hand picking but yet scored highly in performances including highly customer satisfaction.

So it was a completely changed world? It is of use to change a hand picking process into an automatic picking process because of the high circulation speed and the high level of reliability in automatic storage systems as well as picking systems. So why should you pick from shelves by hand?

Manager Spare Parts Operations Mr. Frits van Wezel is precisely: "Stocking and distributing Spare Parts is a specialty". For what you need a WMS, which exactly keeps in mind how much parts are in stock on a certain shelf location and how big these parts are together, related to the shelf measurements. "For example you can put a hundred parts of this size into a shelf part, but when I receive forty of them while an eighty parts remain, the WMS has to put twenty in this shelf and twenty of them somewhere else. And because we use the First In First Out-Principe - at picking you first clear the old location and than the new one - you will never find all our parts at one and the same location."

This 'free location'-activity goes on for all the stocking locations in as well the pallet stocking, the miniload, the shelf- and flow racks.

Upgrading distribution

In the mid '90s Canon Europe's spare parts management in the Dutch city of Amstelveen - where Canon's European headquarters is situated - realized itself that the spare parts center at Schiphol no longer met all expectations.

"We really wanted the spare parts distribution business upgraded to a higher level", Mr. Van Wezel says and this lead to expanding the existing building at Schiphol-Rijk. "We already owned a piece of land of some 30.000 square meters of which just a 10.000 square meters was used. So there was room enough for expanding".

A market review was done for the best warehouse interior combined with the best internal transport technology and well known Vanderlande Industries was selected together with IT-supplier Consafe Logistics. This company has an office in The Netherlands - in Oudenbosch - and a lot of experience in managing a warehouse with an automated internal transport system, an automated store and retrieval system and semi-automatic picking. Also Consafe Logistics knows very well how to co-operate with the control system of a Daifuku miniload, the one Canon uses at Schiphol.

Implementations delayed

Mr. Van Wezel tells how a so called 'combined problem' appeared when it was decided to realize a three level warehouse next to the existing one. Because not only a new building should be constructed, also in the old one all kinds of building activities had to be done by Vanderlande Industries and it was not possible to shut down all the storage and distributing work.

"And than the date came that the builders were ready but we were not because we regularly changed our demands in system control. So this could not be implemented in time. The biggest problem was our wish to have a complete new ERP on the moment we would start operations in the new build warehouse. For the WMS-supplier - Consafe Logistics - this was not a problem, but it was for the ERP-supplier. We wanted to work with the American ERP called BPCS but we did not succeed in having this ERP ready in time for our purposes. So the new warehouse at Schiphol-Rijk was ready to use but we could not start using it because of the absence of a good operating ERP".

Adjustments and a Consafe interface

After several month of silence, the decision was made to use the 'old' ERP - a home made Canon product - at Schiphol-Rijk in the period that new BPCS was not available. To make sure that the new WMS - SattStore was implemented - could work with it, Consafe Logistics experts developed a special interface to have this ERP and SattStore working together without any problem.

"So we finally moved in the new and upgraded parts using than the floors at street level and the first floor in the new part as well as all parts of the old building", Mr. Van Wezel explains. In this reorganization it was also decided - because of the upgrading the distribution philosophy - no longer using the miniload just for storage fast movers. "We used to put everything small into the miniload", as the Manager Spare Parts Operations said. But after a thoroughly put out ABC-analysis on everything which is 'small and tiny' it appeared that a new approach would give better results.

"We now use the miniload for stocking mid- and slow movers and put away the fast movers in the new shelves in the new building where we have some 40.000 stock locations", he says. Where also in the mean time all floors are in use because at street level there are the flow racks and on the second and third floor the shelf layers with picking stock is placed. The 'old' building host the miniload.

New miniload

An extra problem occurred when the miniload starts to show 'old age' behavior. "We knew it would come because it already was ten years of age", the Canon Manager says. "So what ever happened, we needed a new management and control system for the miniload", Mr. Van Wezel states and that appeared to be an adventure by itself. It was however the combined expertise of Daifuku and Consafe Logistics that brought the solution. At first the miniload was expanded with a new rack, supplied by Nedcon and a new crane, supplied by Daifuku. Also new hardware and software to manage the new solution was implemented.

"At that moment we operated with two separated control systems, which both communicate with the WMS. It appeared that SattStore had no problem at all with this phenomenon". At second all crates with supplies have been moved from the old racks to the new ones but by hand, because this was done faster than by crane operations. Than the old crane has been dismantled and replaced by a new one, which has been connected to the new control system. These actions were repeated (at weekends for continuing operations) until all cranes were replaced. Than the new control systems worked all together with SattStore without any problems.


The miniload operates with 35,000 (transport and storage) crates with different capacities. A large number of crates stores 4 different articles (SKU's, Stock Keeping Units) and a smaller number holds ten SKU's. Supplying is done directly from the inbound area. The flow racks store up to 3,000 SKU's and the pallet racks have capacity for 6,200 pallets. The miniload even has an overload capacity of about 7,000 crate locations which is a result of the adding of a new rack and extra crane. This leads to a more flexible storage capacity than has been in the old more static situation.

The Canon European Spare Parts Center delivers her clients on a 24 hours basis. The Direct Dealer Delivery task makes sure that dealers in all European countries receive an item, ordered on day one before 5.00 p.m. the next day. This is about small packages.

The Canon National Sales Organisations (NSO) in the various countries act as distribution center as well and receive their goods in item level, box level or pallet level, depending to the item's circulation speed. Supply levels are defined at the central management in Amstelveen. "In fact we work with two order pick systems for two supply channels", Mr. Van Wezel explains. Next to this there are internal pick orders and internal 'moves' to replenish the flow racks and the miniload.

"WMS SattStore controls and manages all these activities without any problem", he knows after the years that he works with this software. "SattStore automatically brings pick orders to the bulk storage area when somewhere in the warehouse a pick location comes to emptiness". Because of the complex inbound, storage and picking tasks the Canon European Spare Parts Center at Schiphol-Rijk Works with 9 double workstations at the 1st floor.

"Here is where the inbound starts and both the stock orders and the pick orders are done", Mr. Van Wezel says. It is a great advantaged that all incoming goods immediately are checked to quantity and quality and be stocked on the base of its volume and the expected delivery demands. "SattStore made our circulation speed tremendously higher", the Canon Manager says.


Mr. Frits Van Wezel tells us after ten years working with SattStore to be very pleased and satisfied having this WMS. Including the way he has been supported by Consafe Logistics in case of technical troubles. "This however seldom appears and than often can be remedied over the remote control connection between Oudenbosch and ourselves".

Nevertheless the past ten years a lot of changes have been made to the European Spare Parts Center as well as the WMS. "For example we doubled the number of working stations and also the number of flow racks". SattStore had to be adapted to these changes but so has been done without any problem. As has been done without problems to the hardware of the warehouse.

Also the Canon Manager still is satisfied about the way SattStore communicates with ERP BPCS. "We did change namely the whole IT structure of the distribution organization in Europe in the period of working with SattStore", Mr. Van Wezel says. "Now we all in the individual Canon country organizations work with the same Oracle software but dealers have their own software and put orders from there into Oracle. We in Holland are the only ones that use BPCS and the Oracle software puts the orders - translated - into BPCS. As SattStore communicates with a specially written interface to BPCS, this WMS recognizes wrong data and reports this or adjust it by itself".

SattStore also communicates 'external' by reporting automatically status messages to the European headquarters in Amstelveen. Internal it communicates to the renewed PLC-software of the miniload cranes and the WMS transmits messages by a wireless RFDC Spread Spectrum radio network to all truck terminals and hand held terminals at the inbound and order picking/outbound packing work stations. The conveyors are supplied with vast mounted bar code laser scanners for crate identification and sorting out over the various lanes. Not primary bar coded packages or individual items are labeled and coded at the work stations by special purchased laser label printers.

WMS SattStore realized at the Canon European Spare Parts Center:

  • Optimizing of all order picking functions in all areas of the warehouse;
  • Optimizing of all fork lift truck transports in the manual storage area;
  • Optimizing stock management;
  • Paperless picking in the conventional storage area and reducing all administrative work at order entry, inbound and expedition and at least;
  • Optimizing space control in the warehouse as the distribution possibilities between the European Spare Parts Center and the individual European country organizations.

Figures and special functions:

WMS SattStore has been designed for:

  • 833 inbound moves a day,
  • 5,500 order lines a day,
  • 20,000 pick lines a day,
  • 280,000 outbound moves a day and
  • 49,000 SKU's.

The system operates with:

  • 127,000 locations in the miniload,
  • 40,000 locations in the shelving area,
  • 3,000 locations in the flow racks,
  • 6,200 locations in the small aisle pallet area,
  • 7,000 smaller pallet rack locations,
  • 1,500 pallet floor locations,
  • 8 order pick vehicles in the small aisle area plus 1 turret truck,
  • 56 handheld terminals with in build bar code scanners and RFDC radio,
  • 21 handheld barcode scanners,
  • 4 handheld scanners for long distance scanning,
  • 7 laser label printers,
  • 25 vast mounted scanners to conveyors and sorters,
  • 18 RFDC Access Points (Spread Spectrum),
  • circa 2 kilometers of conveyors.

The WMS supports:

Automatic replenishment between bulk and pick stock and between warehouses in the various European countries and this warehouse,

  • Article identification and data collecting up to three levels (item - box - pallet),
  • Customer identification with every order,
  • Automatically presenting standard packing information with every item,
  • Withdraw of an order,
  • Printing packing labels at courier's specifications,
  • Automatic weight presenting per packing unit (sack, box or pallet,
  • Loading information (depending on way of transport),
  • Historic list of picked orders,
  • Package measurements (adjusted to the internal transport and storage system),
  • Repacking at replenishment,
  • Automatic selection of needed packing material and
  • Automatic check and tracking of non registered boxes.



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