Optimised production processes, faster deliveries to customers and more sustainable operations – these are the main benefits of Continental’s newly commissioned automated tyre warehouse. At Continental Barum, this is the largest investment in recent times. The automation will save several dozen employees who can be redeployed to other activities. The 43-metre high building is also becoming a new landmark in Otrokovice.
At the end of January, a new, fully automated shelf warehouse for finished products was inaugurated in the presence of Continental management. This is the largest investment event that Continental Barum in Otrokovice has recently implemented. The warehouse building is 43 metres high, approximately the same height as the Statue of Liberty in New York, and will thus be unmissable in Otrokovice.
First in Continental Tires
As Bernhard Trilken, Head of Production and Logistics at Continental Tires, mentioned at the official opening of the warehouse, this is the first automated tyre warehouse of the Continental Group. “With the new fully automated warehouse, we will significantly increase the efficiency of our logistics processes in Otrokovice. We will thus serve our customers faster and reduce the carbon footprint of our operations,” he said.
The warehouse was built on a site where the company had redundant buildings. Work started in 2022 and was completed last autumn. The size of the warehouse is 10,000 square metres, which allows up to 930,000 jackets to be stored in the space. For this reason, it is now possible to significantly reduce the transport and shipment of jackets to external warehouses outside Otrokovice, thereby reducing CO2 production. Until now, a large part of the tyres were stored not only near the premises, but even in distant Ostrava. At the same time, some of the products had to be transported back to Otrokovice before dispatch to complete the order. The new warehouse eliminates up to 16,720 transports to other warehouses per year.
Robotic hands instead of human hands
The storage solution consists of high racks with small aisles that allow vertical and horizontal stacking and retrieval of stored goods using mobile stackers. These stackers automatically transport tyres stored on pallets around the warehouse area and stack them in the selected position. The sorting of incoming products takes place with the help of eight gantry robots, which sort the products and then place them on pallets according to each dimension. A further six gantry robots then dispatch the jackets.
“The last time the human hand is involved is during the visual inspection and then when the truck is loaded,” says Libor Láznička, Managing Director of Continental Barum, describing one of the advantages of the automated warehouse. The tyres are transported on a conveyor directly from the factory and the system sorts them, stacks them, puts them on pallets and stores them in a warehouse with high racks. When the tyres are dispatched, the robot can select the required quantity from the stored tyres, sort them and prepare them on a conveyor belt that takes them to a ramp where they are transferred to trucks.
The automation saves several dozen workers whose work was monotonous and arduous. According to the head of the company, they will be transferred to another production.
Like in the mountains
In addition to sustainability, the design of the warehouse focused on the safety of the entire warehouse operation. Inside the warehouse, sprinkler heads are installed in every third row to start extinguishing the building in the event of a fire. There are 15,000 sprinklers in total. Next to the warehouse, a 40-metre high reinforced concrete fire wall has also been built.
The environment of the automated rack warehouse is also innovative, where the oxygen level has been reduced to 14.2 percent. “The air here is like in the mountains, at an altitude of several thousand metres. The reason for reducing the oxygen concentration is the fire safety of the storage area, which becomes an environment where tyre burning is impossible,” adds Libor Láznička.
A 600 m3 retention tank has been built around the warehouse to capture rainwater and its subsequent use.
Continental Barum is part of the multinational Continental Group with headquarters in Hannover. It employs more than 5,000 people and is thus the largest employer in the Zlín region. Its sales grew by 19 percent year-on-year to CZK 70.2 billion. Profit after tax amounted to CZK 3.68 billion, compared with CZK 2.49 billion a year earlier.
Continental AG is a German joint-stock company that manufactures components in the automotive industry. It specializes in tires, braking systems, electronic stabilization programs, internal combustion engine injection systems, tachographs and other components. In 2022, Continental achieved sales of €39.4 billion and currently employs approximately 200,000 people in 57 countries and markets. In fiscal year 2022, the Group’s Tires sector achieved sales of €14 billion. Continental’s Tire Division employs 57,000 people worldwide and has 20 production and 16 development sites.
In the Czech Republic, it is represented by production and sales units in Adršpach, Brandýs nad Labem, Jičín, Otrokovice, Ostrava, Frenštát pod Radhoštěm and Horšovský Týn. In total, the company employs more than 17,000 people here.
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