A winning solution

12 December 2012

Swisslog revamps warehousing facilities for Coca-Cola Amatil incorporating storage and staging systems and a transportation hub including monorail Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), located in Northmead, was outgrowing its on-sit

Swisslog revamps warehousing facilities for Coca-Cola Amatil incorporating storage and staging systems and a transportation hub including monorail

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), located in Northmead, was outgrowing its on-site warehousing facilities, with stock stored in multiple off-site locations which created numerous problems such as high levels of stock write-offs, site congestion and other health and safety risks.

Swisslog worked in collaboration with CCA to assess the feasibility of different distribution options applicable to its New South Wales (NSW) operations, before designing the materials handling solution.

The new facility needed to address chain of responsibility requirements for transport and ensure accurate and timely replenishment to its other operations. The solution also needed to enable CCA to achieve world best practice levels of customer service, operational costs and stock accuracy. It needed to provide a safe working environment and facilitate a growth platform while also meeting FIFO, quality and delivery requirements.

Key design elements Storage systems: Given CCA's high pallet storage requirement and its limited availability of on-site space, Swisslog's solution maximised vertical height using a crane-fed automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). This allowed a 32m tall High Bay which can store the equivalent of 158 million cans. The racking design was optimised to minimise both building and material handling costs. A clad rack design was chosen to achieve these benefits whereby the racking itself forms part of the construction of the building. Clad rack also enabled a quicker implementation schedule versus a more traditional design where a free standing rack is built inside a conventional building.

Transportation hub: A monorail linking the receiving, storage and staging operations allows pallets to be quickly and easily transported from any source to any destination within the system.

During the design phases the transportation and handling strategies were optimised to enable the monorail to transport 740 pallets every hour. A pallet is delivered to a destination by the monorail every 5 seconds.

Staging systems: Due to CCA's high system throughputs, it was essential to ensure the system provided adequate staging to enable a continual flow of pallets to the docks. The staging areas provide operational flexibility during peak and non peak periods and were designed to enable the loading of a trailer while the system automatically stages the next load.

In order to achieve the targeted truck turn around times, automated loading was considered vital given the technology's fast response times. Between the 6 docks over 15 trailers can be loaded every hour, which is one 22 pallet trailer every 4 minutes.

Key benefits In addition to effectively enabling significant growth, Swisslog's solution provided CCA with the ability to consolidate its NSW warehousing operations, improve its efficiency and incorporate its environmental initiatives. Also, despite its 24 hours a day, 7 days a week operation, the High Bay requires very few staff. There are just 26 people employed directly in the High Bay by CCA.

Most importantly CCA's customers have benefited from the completion of the Northmead High Bay in a number of ways including very high inventory accuracy and on time delivery.

The state-of-the-art warehouse is now the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and has one of the highest throughput handling systems in the world. The Northmead warehouse was recognised by the Logistics Association of Australia in 2009 when it was awarded with a Smart Award for Excellence in Supply Chain Innovation. It also scooped a prestigious Mercury award in 2009 for its Technology Application.

CCA distribution centre manager Linda Leo concluded: "The utilisation of our system and equipment serves for us to be efficient, effective and economical with our operation."