A Digital Sorting System for Sorting Automotive Repair Parts and Accessories

Volkswagen Group Japan KK (VGJ) imports and sells 3 million repair parts and accessories annually at over 350 dealers throughout Japan. The company uses a digital sorting system on site to sort the ordered parts smoothly based on their shipment destination, and this system helps improve work efficiency and keep costs down. The digital sorting system is called a "sorting rack system."

  • Picking system
  • Automotive Industry
  • Cost savings
  • Work efficiency improvement
  • Enhanced customer service

Same-day Shipping on Orders for Nationwide Dealers

The Toyohashi Import Center of VGJ (German-based Volkswagen's Japanese division located in Toyohashi, Aichi in central Japan) imports and sells genuine automotive parts and accessories for Volkswagen as well as Audi, Bentley, and other group companies.

The parts depot at the Toyohashi Import Center has a system for providing same-day shipping on orders for an average of 9,000 parts per day from over 350 dealers and satellite locations throughout Japan. In addition, delivery of parts and accessories imported from Germany by ship takes two months, so the center constantly maintains a three-month supply of inventory.

The VGJ Toyohashi Import CenterThe VGJ Toyohashi Import Center has a massive area of 178,000 square meters.

Volkswagen vehiclesVolkswagen vehicles awaiting delivery to dealers.

Sorting Rack System Constructed In-house

Since the parts depot was established in 1993, the sorting rack system constructed in-house has been used for sorting parts and accessories. This system was based on a digital sorting system, and it distributes and arranges products on shelves by delivery destination.

During the sorting of shipment products, when the barcode applied to the product delivered from the warehouse is read on the car truck, the sorting shelf lane information is displayed on the station terminal on the car truck, and the insertion position display lights up at the same time. The worker inserts the product at the indicated location and touches the display to turn off the light. This process continues until the order is completed.

When a lane has all the shipment products, the shipping side display lights up. The shipping side worker detects the products by reading the product barcode in the rear packing area and packs the boxes.

The initial sorting rack system sorted products that were picked for each order from the roughly 50,000 types of inventory parts to the sorting shelves in six zones (192 lanes). However, the number of parts and orders for accessories increases with the number of vehicles sold. In addition, there was an insufficient number of sorting points in the sorting rack system due to increased shipment destinations and operational problems such as display malfunctions and disconnections.

The barcode of a part is scanned at the station car truck, and the lane information is displayed on the terminal.

Sorting racks. In lanes where packing is complete, the worker touches the display to turn off the light.

Upgrading to the VPC-1000 FA Computer for Management

The management computer and work support station terminals at the heart of the system require a high level of reliability and must be able to stand up to rigorous operation over 350 days out of the year. To meet these conditions, the Contec VPC-1000 series FA computer was selected as the management computer, and the compact PT10 series panel computers were selected as the station terminals. Control software designed by Contec Software Development Co., Ltd. was embedded into this to enable an expansion of sorting shelves of additional four zones (128 lanes), and all displays were converted to LAN format to save on wiring. The upgrade was completed in October 2010.

After the upgrade, each lane was allocated one shipment destination for significantly faster work time. Now, roughly 3 million orders can be quickly processed each year, and cost has been reduced from 20 million yen to 30 million yen.

Hardware and software that supports the sorting rack system

Hardware Features

VPC-1000 series management computer

  • Highly-reliable and long-life design for 24/7/365 operation
  • RoHS-compliant specifications for environmental safety and compliance with various standards
  • Construction for excellent maintainability, including easy exchange of consumable parts, and expandability
  • Watchdog timer function for monitoring the operation status

IPC-PT/SV10DC1-4J (PT10 series) station terminals

  • The fanless, disk-free design eliminates moving parts that can be the cause of malfunctions and reduces the maintenance load.
  • Quick, high-speed startup of approximately 10 seconds
  • Equipped with abundant expansion interface that can link to peripheral devices

Customer Profile

Evaluating the Comprehensive Upgrade Including Existing Facilities

Tsuyoshi Nakamura, Section Manager, VGJ Toyohashi Parts Depot
Contec headed up the expansion of our sorting shelves and the upgrade of our management system. After the upgrade, our sorting capacity grew by approximately 50%, and the improvement in operations and elimination of equipment malfunction enabled smoother work flow. In addition, we are very grateful that the VGJ sorting rack links smoothly with the large sophisticated parts system operated at the head office in Germany. As a result, the sorting rack system is active every day and has become an essential part of our operations.

Products Used and Solutions

  • Digital Sorting System

    This seeding method system uses picking displays to improve the efficiency of sorting and reduce labor, space, and sorting errors.

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