Automation of fasteners logistics processes with SmartBin solution


One of three global KK Wind Solutions’ factories is located in Szczecin. The state-of-the-art, automated division produces inverters – key components that ensure the proper operation of wind power plants. Fasteners needed for their assembly are managed by Bossard SmartBin logistics system.

A wind-powered future is the motto of KK Wind Solutions. With subsidiaries in seven countries around the world, the Group offers electrical systems for wind turbines used in the renewable energy industry. These are used to convert wind energy into electricity. These include comprehensive control systems as well as systems and subsystems for turbine management and monitoring.

More than 35,000 wind turbines worldwide are equipped with solutions provided by KK Wind Solutions, including 65% in the field of offshore power plants. The company cooperates with the Top 3 suppliers of turbines and wind farms on the market.

One of KK Wind Solutions’ three global factories is located in Szczecin. The state-of-the-art manufacturing division has been operating here since 2003, currently covering 7 production halls and employing around 1,500 workers. The Szczecin factory has implemented the industry’s first fully automated production line. Inverters – the key elements that ensure the correct operation of a wind power plant – are produced on it.

Converter – the heart and mind of the turbine

The inverter is the main operating unit of the converter, which is, so to speak, the heart and mind of the turbine. In the simplest terms, it converts wind power into electricity that can be used by the end user. At the same time, the distributed control system controls all the processes of the turbine’s complex machinery, ensuring its safety and smooth operation. It recognizes, for example, the icing of the blades and triggers their immediate thawing.

Both the product itself and its manufacturing require the cooperation of a number of advanced solutions and systems. The company is the first manufacturer in the wind energy industry to use robots on the production line, and it controls the quality of its products using 3D scanning. Innovation can also be seen here in the way production is managed. KK Wind Solutions relies on automation not only of the production line itself, but also of logistics processes.


Key supply chain

KK Wind Solutions’ most complex products consist of thousands of fasteners, such as bolts, washers and nuts. That’s why the company places special emphasis on agile supply chain management in this area. A Kanban-based, Bossard SmartBin intelligent logistics system operates on the converter production floor. It organizes and streamlines access to components needed for assembly. They are arranged in more than 200 bins on 3 racks located in key areas on the production floor.

Communicated via wireless connectivity, the centrally managed ecosystem eliminates waste and streamlines assembly processes. Easy availability of materials improves production efficiency, while automated inventory management streamlines logistics processes.

According to Dawid Klimowicz, Product Upgrades Manager at KK Wind Solutions, continuous process improvement and digital transformation are encoded in the company’s DNA. In his opinion, the Bossard SmartBin system fits perfectly into this concept. – Especially today, when supply chains have been disrupted and lead times are uncertain, the responsibility lies with the system operator, who operates on continuously updated data and without intermediaries, he says.

What is the Bossard SmartBin system and how does it work?

SmartBin is nothing more than a modern, fully automated version of the traditional Kanban system, operating on the basis of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The forerunner of this solution is Bossard, which for years has specialized in comprehensive logistics services for Part C, including industrial fasteners, of which it is also a global distributor.

The Bossard SmartBin system consists of bins equipped with weight sensors, placed on special racks near production lines or outlets. The weight sensors monitor inventory levels, capturing the condition of a predefined minimum. When the minimum level is reached, such a container wirelessly communicates with the IT platform managing the system (Bossard ARIMS). The platform processes the data, organizes and consolidates the orders, and then passes them on for fulfilment.

The entire process can take place virtually without the customer’s involvement and be handled by the supplier. Bossard has insight into current orders, which it fulfils by delivering goods and replenishing inventory. In practice, however, manufacturing companies are happy to have a “preview” of the system, which they can have, for example, in the form of an app available for mobile devices. This gives a transparent view of the entire process and allows a great deal of flexibility, for example, if production needs to be intensified or temporarily halted.

How is SmartBin performing at the KK Wind Solutions factory?

According to Andrzej Holka, Director – In-house production & Lean, Production Plant of the Szczecin factory, the implementation of the system has allowed the company to streamline a number of processes. – First of all, it guarantees us continuity in the supply chain of fasteners, which is quite a challenge nowadays. Material rotation and warehouse management have improved. The crew has also benefited from the introduction of the system. Fitters have better access to materials, and the purchasing department has less work to do.

Bossard SmartBin – benefits

  • Guaranteed continuity in the supply chain
  • Saving space in the warehouse
  • More efficient flow of materials
  • Less workload for the purchasing department
  • Crew comfort