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Maastricht Distribution Center Boosts Efficiency with New Carousel

Maastricht Carousel 
The Maastricht team poses near their new carousel

The Nordson distribution center in the Netherlands recently installed a new carousel, or automated retrieval device, that has boosted efficiency by at least 10 percent.

"The carousel is the main heart of the warehouse," explained Werner Covers, the Nordson Distribution Manager who led the carousel replacement project. "It stores the parts for our orders in specific places, so when we get an order the carousel moves around to either pick up a part that's on a certain shelf, in a certain bin, or it puts a part away."

The carousel is crucial to the facility's business because customers expect their orders to be fulfilled quickly. If a customer places an order before 4 p.m., the team aims to ship it out that same day. Their outdated system, however, was hampering their progress.

"The system was housed on an ancient computer with software that was programmed 50 years ago," Werner said. "It was unreliable, and we can't afford for the carousel to not work."

Werner partnered with Will Jacobs, Warehouse Supervisor; and Pascal van Leeuwen, Warehouse Employee to devise a plan for a new system, including updated hardware and software. Their team hired B-Tec, an industrial automation team, to assist with the software development. They also made sure to seek input from the warehouse operators and supervisors who interact most with the carousel on a daily basis.

"All the operators on the work floor were involved in this, and that's the best part," Will said. "If we hadn't involved them at the start of the project, we would have had some difficulties, but we did and that's why we have such good software now."

The development process took place during a period of several years.

"We developed a plan, tried it in the software, tested it and made adjustments," Pascal explained. He worked closely with B-Tec to develop the updated software.

Once ready, the new system was installed within a single weekend. The installation began on Friday evening, and the system went live Monday morning. Due to the team's extensive prior testing, the installation process went smoothly.

Now, their new system allows them to work more efficiently and securely than ever. It's installed on two Windows 10 computers, so if one crashes for any reason, the other can serve as a backup. Plus, the software can be copied to any Nordson computer in any location in the world, so the process can be implemented in new locations.

"We are ready for the future," Will said. "It's not only about our efficiency. Nordson is growing and we're ready for it."