Norbord, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wood-based panels, produces more than 1200m of OSB panels per day at its Genk location. Every day the logistics employees apply 1400 labels to pallets in order to manage the panels and stock. This process was recently automated at Norbord’s Belgian location with a Zetes industrial labelling machine and ZetesAtlas identification software.
After the manufacturing process, the Norbord panels are placed on pallets and wrapped in protective film. Information about the pallets, the OSB panels and their location in the warehouse is stored in the ERP system. It also prints the labels that are applied to the respective pallets and scanned.
Until recently, these labels were printed in advance, so the forklift operators had to leave their cab each time to label and scan a pallet.
In order to automate the process, Norbord opted for ZetesAtlas, an integrated solution for identification and serialisation. After pallet wrapping, the machine applies the label – always in the same place – and automatically scans the barcode with the stock location and batch number.
Then ZetesAtlas ensures that the pallet is shown correctly in Norbord’s warehouse management software. The forklift operator enters the stock locations only once at the start of their shift. Once the pallet has been scanned, the operator takes it to the designated place in the warehouse with an area of approximately 40,000 sq m.
Automation boosts safety and reduces errors
With the help of the automated solution, the forklift operators no longer have to leave their cabs to apply and scan the labels. This also dramatically improves safety, since there’s always a risk of falling every time a forklift operator exits or enters the cab.
“The difference since our project with Zetes is enormous,” says Steven Brouillard, department manager finishing end operations at Norbord. “We save time, and we are more efficient with fewer scan errors. We were just about to start up a second production line. Thanks to ZetesAtlas, we are now working with an additional line but with the same team. The new solution came at the right time.”
A new way of working with ZetesAtlas
“It’s not easy to link industrial machines to ERP or WMS software,” says Stefan Nysen, systems developer at Norbord. “For us this worked out very well with smooth co-operation between our engineering and IT teams on the one hand and Zetes on the other hand. Instead of running on its own in a remote corner of the warehouse, our machine is fully integrated into our operations thanks to the ZetesAtlas identification software.”
Steven Brouillard concludes: “Zetes impressed us with their very professional approach. We started in March 2019 with the first contact, and six months later our two machines were already running at full speed. We also appreciate that we can call Zetes whenever we want to. Looking back, we could ask ourselves why we waited so long.”