One step ahead of the udders

Automated storage and retrieval system helps dairy producer meet growing customer demands.

EMMI integrated an automated storage and retrieval system from Westfalia with its storage facility to create a paperless warehouse. Source: Westfalia.
Due to major growth that included purchasing and integrating smaller dairies into the company, EMMI, a Luzern, Switzerland-based dairy company, divided itself into three sectors: fresh products, dairy products and cheese.

"This rapid growth combined with current government guidelines forced us to re-evaluate our logistics needs," says Bert Evers, logistics manager at EMMI. With an overall budget of $25 million, EMMI's fresh products sector wanted to construct a cold-storage center that would handle both current and future needs.

The processor contacted Industrial Engineering, a contracting firm, and SlimPlan, a service company in material flow and logistics simulation, to design a new logistics center. After developing a material handling simulation to illustrate the optimum solution for EMMI, the two companies found an automated storage and retrieval system from Westfalia Technologies would solve EMMI's efficiency problems.

"Extensive reconstruction was necessary to modernize our manually operated warehouse," says Evers. "In particular our picking location, the core of the warehouse, needed to be restructured." The new capacity of the warehouse was designed for approximately 5,100 pallets-4,770 of which are located in the storage system. Integrated into the production order zone are 175 lanes, each two pallets deep. Slower moving items are handled in the existing block storage system.

"Our existing conveyors were also out of date and needed to be automated," says Evers. In response, Westfalia designed and installed an extensive conveying system, consisting of lifts and an 820-ft. accumulation conveyor. And, the addition of a new control system allowed the new and old conveyors to be integrated.

Westfalia provided three storage and retrieval machines, each performing at 656 ft./min. horizontally and 295 ft./min. vertically-exceeding the requirements of EMMI's throughput needs. Approximately 65 pallets, weighing 2,200 lbs. each, can be distributed every hour by each storage and retrieval machine. This triple-support method was installed so heavy pallets would not sag, preventing pallet hang-ups.

At the same time, a new high-density satellite storage system, with dimensions of 185 ft. by 88 ft. by 30 ft. high, for pallet loads of empty containers that have not yet been filled, was put into operation. Three blocks with four levels each, totaling 570 storage lanes, were installed. Based on the turnover rate of the products, the storage lane depths were specified at six or seven deep, which resulted in storage capacity of 3,460 pallets. Two storage and retrieval machines operating in two shifts were installed to handle the high turnover rates.

For the empty package warehouse to run smoothly, Westfalia provided an extensive conveyor system, including three lifts, transfer cars and 262 feet of transport conveyors. To pick significant volumes of empty packages, an order selection area consisting of two rows, with eight lanes each, was installed on two levels-32 lanes in all.

Because EMMI wanted a warehouse for packaging material to be integrated, one was designed using a heavy-duty gravity flow rack system, providing a total capacity of 1,300 pallet positions.

"The increased performance of the warehouse through the automation of all processes, particularly the interaction of the order selection and warehouse management system, has worked out well for us," says Evers. "In addition, our customers are profiting from the error-free order process."

For more information:

Allison Kapalka, Westfalia,

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