Nepata ARSS: First automatic roll storage celebrates its world premiere

Feb 8, 2024 | Nepata rewinders

The world’s most modern automated storage for roll media has started operations. For converters, film […]
Store rolls to save space in the automatic roll storage © Frank Martini 4GM / Folienwelt

The world’s most modern automated storage for roll media has started operations. For converters, film distributors or digital printers, this means greater efficiency and less work when storing and retrieving roll media.

The premiere took place in mid-November 2023 at 4GM / in Trier. The film retailer is the first company to use the Automated Roll Storage System (ARSS) developed by Nepata in its warehouse. After several weeks of test operation, the storage has been almost full since mid-January and is now in regular operation.

At Nepata’s invitation, premiere guests from several European countries took advantage of the unique opportunity to get to watch the ARSS in a real working environment. The way robots and humans interact during the picking process was met with great enthusiasm. “Hauling is a thing of the past,” says Nepata managing director Fabian Franke.

Pilot project for the automatic roll storage system at 4GM / Folienwelt in Trier: Impressions of the premiere party with international guests © Frank Martini 4GM / Folienwelt

Automation of storage processes for roll media

The Automated Roll Storage System (ARSS) receives the orders from the ERP; A robot goes and gets the required rolls from the high-bay warehouse and hands them over to the employees at the converting machines.

The system is designed for small to medium-sized roll storage systems with a total capacity of 400 to 5,000 rolls – depending on the configuration. The ARSS was developed by the German machine manufacturer specialist Nepata, a manufacturer for film conversion machines. The system was installed and programmed by CH System in Denmark. The company specializes in robot-assisted packaging and handling systems.

High rack with mandrels and vertical robot

So it was up to Christian Weinreich, technical manager at CH System, to explain robots, hardware and technical components. The basis for the automatic roll storage system is a steel rack construction with horizontal mandrels on which the rolls hang. A vertical 3-axis robot moves to the rolls required for each order. It lifts the roll with a tray gripper and places it in a transfer station directly next to the winding machine. In the pilot project at, almost 2,000 rolls of vinyl film and other roll media are stored on one shelf on just 60 square meters of floor space.

At the premiere party, 4GM managing director Robin Schröring-Abke explained the reasons why the company decided to say goodbye to conventional shelf storage: “Every week was Domino Day,” he said. The majority of the more than 4,000 rolls in the warehouse were simply standing on shelves – with the risk of everything falling over in the event of carelessness. Other impressive figures from his presentation: 68 percent more rolls can be stored in the space than with shelving. And the picking process has become 58 percent faster thanks to automation. This means that the capacity can be increased from 700 to 1,200 storage and retrieval units.

The Automated Roll Storage System (ARSS) stores roll media in an extremely space-saving way - and makes picking easier for converters, film distributors and digital printers.

Schröring-Abke’s conclusion: “The ARSS was the best investment”. “What could be better than an enthusiastic customer who praises the thing himself,” said Nepata representative Franke in response. And the guests from the film distribution and converting industry were impressed by how sophisticated the process optimization at 4GM is – beyond the new hardware. What also became clear during the presentation: For every company, adaptations to individual processes and conditions are necessary – and possible. Each Automatic Roll Storage System is individually planned and designed by Nepata and CH System.

Less hauling, more space

The pilot project already makes it clear that the ARSS can solve typical challenges in roll warehouses: inefficient pick-up and delivery processes, heavy manual work, picking errors and space problems. The use of robots fundamentally changes the pick-up and delivery process and increases efficiency.

In almost all converting processes, roll media must be stored and swapped out. This can mean thousands of rolls and hundreds of picks per day in a value chain. The traditional storage of rolls and the way to the converting area (and back) cause considerable costs and time losses. Despite high-speed sorting, inefficient pick-up and delivery times remain. And last but not least, shelving takes up valuable space and the surfaces of the rolls are damaged.

At this is now a thing of the past – which was celebrated with manufacturers, suppliers and, above all, employees at the launch. They have already fully accepted “robot colleagues”.

More about the automatic storage system for roll media with vertical robot online:

Video of the ARSS premiere:

Nepata Automatic Roll Storage System (ARSS) World Premiere November 2023

"We are continuously working to develop and improve our products to meet customer needs and gain competitive advantage. The materials and requirements of our customers often differ - through close exchange we can achieve learnings, optimize our products and thus enable our customers to achieve even better results."

Dominik Haas (Technician)

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