In retail general merchandize and grocery distribution centers, thousands of different products have to be handled every day, ranging from small chewing gum packages to huge and heavy detergent multi packs.

Many retail, general merchandize and grocery distribution centers are still based on pallet storage and manual picking activities where each picker has to manipulate up to 15 tons daily in typically non-ergonomic operations.

To address this, TGW, an integrated logistics and material handling equipment provider with a Michigan office in Spring Lake, has introduced PerfectPick.

TGW’s PerfectPick is a fully automated, modular picking system designed for complete distribution center automation. This highly modular automated picking concept is applicable for the entire temperature range used for retail, general merchandize and grocery distribution centers, including deep freezer applications. PerfectPick uses standardized components that can be configured to the level of automation based on a customer’s business processes and needs.

PerfectPick is designed to automatically configure and pack complete store orders on pallets or roller containers. The configuration of each order exactly meets the customer’s requirements, including optimizing the stacking pattern to the unloading process within the individual store’s layout.

According to Tom Swovick, food and beverage systems sales manager for TGW, PerfectPick is designed for companies that have been successful regarding integration within their supply chain.

“Many companies have worked on their supply chains to improve processes and information integration, but haven’t yet moved their focus to their physical systems,” said Swovick. “TGW’s PerfectPick removes the physical limitations that have hindered a facility and facilitates a whole new level of capabilities for a company to better satisfy complex orders. This leads to higher productivity, improved customer service, and ultimately, to previously untapped revenue.”

The PerfectPick process starts with the automated de-palletizing of single SKU pallets coming directly from the goods receiving or a pallet warehouse. In contrast to competing systems, TGW’s specialized solution design and material handling technology means PerfectPick automatically handles each product directly on its conveyor and storage equipment without needing an additional load carrier. This simplifies the material flow within the distribution center as you don’t have to deal with handling empty load carriers.

The fully automatic de-palletizing unit, called Splitex, separates each package or carton from the pallet and delivers it to the automated conveyor system that feeds the subsequent operations. The Splitex combines de-palletizing performance with the careful handling of the various types of products and packaging maintaining the highest product integrity at all times. Each package or carton is fully supported across its base surface throughout the entire process. This support prevents product damage and enables the system to handle the widest possible range of packaging materials.

TGW’s automated mini-load storage and retrieval technology, called  Twister, handles these individual packages or cartons in dense storage locations within the warehouse. Between one and four packages of the same incoming product are stored in storage channels, depending on their size, with access to each individual SKU. The machinery can pick the exact number of needed packages or cartons from each storage channel for the subsequent process. To boost the warehouse and process performance the AS/RS machines pick for multiple orders, combining single customer orders into batches that are delivered to a small but highly dynamic sequence buffer.

In the sequence buffer two high speed TGW Commissioner AS/RS machines sort the incoming SKU batches into a rack and create the optimum sequence for the palletizing process. Each sequence buffer’s capacity does not exceed the storage for three to four pallet loads as their task is to just to prepare the right order for palletizing as quickly as possible. High speed and full redundancy is guaranteed by the warehouse.

Automatically picking orders in the exact product sequence creates a fully automated palletizing process that ensures the stability of each pallet and also the right loading pattern reflecting the customers’ requirements. Each TGW Autostax palletizing unit loads more than eight pallets per hour with an average of 90 packages each. Every package or carton is gently placed on the pallet by telescopic boom conveyors that fully support its base surface throughout the process. This support enables the AUTOSTAX to handle the widest variety of different products and prevents from product damages compared to other palletizing solutions.

Alternatively the customer can opt for the highly ergonomic manual palletizing work station Slotstax. The worker at the Slotstax is provided with the right products by the fully automated conveyor system in a predefined sequence. The person only needs to slide the offered SKUs over the work station’s surface to the right position on the pallet without having to lift or carry them. The pallet position is automatically adjusted to its actual loading height.

In both palletizing options the loaded goods are secured on the pallet or roller container. Completed pallets are lowered to an automatic shrink wrapper and then ready for labeling and shipping to the stores.

“The big advantages of our PerfectPick solution are the relatively simple material flow and ability to handle the greatest variety of retail SKUs without any additional load carrier”, says Rudolf Hansl. “And we see it as basic concept for designing a tailor made solution for every customer.”

TGW has installed a working test installation of the PerfectPick concept in the company’s new technology center at its global headquarters in Wels, Austria. Companies can view the system using test product, but more importantly, they can bring in actual product to test using PerfectPick.

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You can view a video of the PerfectPick system at

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