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The Future Looks Bright for Budweiser

SSI Schaefer has designed, built and installed a brand new automated storage facility for well-known brewery Budweiser Budvar at the company’s existing production site České Budějovice in the Czech Republic.

The new high-bay racking facility, complete with Schaefer’s pallet conveyor technology, is 26 metres high, three aisles wide and houses 3000 pallet storage locations, for pallets with a weight of up to 900 kilograms, directly connected to Budvar’s existing block warehouse production site.

Combined with the latest plant technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) integration and tailored Warehouse Management System (WMS), SSI Schaefer has significantly increased process reliability whilst making maximum use of available space.

Pavel Panek, Head of Logistics and Purchasing at the Budvar brewery said: "We were looking for a solution that met our complex requirements using the latest technology. The key objectives included maximum utilisation of existing space, 100 percent process control, real-time tracking and the integration of our RFID-led block warehouse into the new Warehouse Management System, integrated again into our existing ERP system. SSI Schaefer offered the best solution to meet these needs with an attractive price/performance ratio."

Assembly work on the warehouse was completed in less than 20 weeks, including technology and sheathing and the facility went into full operation with the first incoming pallets shortly after – up to 50 HGVs are loaded each day and sent to over 50 countries around the world.

When selecting materials for the high bay racking system, special precautions against excessive heat build-up and the effects of frost were taken into consideration including fire protection criteria. Sandwich panels with high insulation properties and a high fire protection rating, as well as heat-dissipation flaps installed on the roof, ensure that the required thermal conditions are met.

In order to achieve the required number of storage positions in the three-aisle warehouse, the first row of shelves and the storage and retrieval devices in the first aisle were designed for double-depth storage. Single-depth storage is provided in the two other racking aisles.

Beer crates or cartons, stacked on 120 x 80 cm pallets in production using palletising robots, pass through the high bay warehouse via roller track and conveyor belt technology to the transfer station. The contours and weights of the goods are recorded and entered into the WMS. The pallets are then conveyed to a pallet lift which transfers the pallets either directly to an outgoing goods table in the direction of the block warehouse or onto a transfer table and into one of the high bay racking storage and retrieval devices. A transfer station has been set up for inside storage into the racking system and a rotary table ensures that pallets are aligned correctly.

"At the start of the project, Budweiser decided to apply the same principles and strategies for controlling the existing block warehouse into the new, automatic high bay racking system", said SSI Schaefer Sales Executive Rindt. "A key feature included warehouse processes in the block warehouse processed via RFID. As a result, inventory management and process control functions had to be integrated into the new WMS both for the automated high bay racking system and for the manually operated block warehouse equipped with RFID."

All warehouse channels in the block warehouse are identified using RFID tags; in addition, RFID tags are fitted to all transfer stations on the conveyor system. Display is used to assign jobs to forklifts from the WMS and equipped with RFID aerials. When a forklift drives into a storage channel, the information is automatically captured on the WMS which also defines whether the forklift carries out inward or outward movements, and in what volume.

For order picking, the WMS initiates the outward storage processes in the high bay racking system and in the block warehouse. With its speed of 130 metres per minute and a lift of 54 metres per minute, the storage and retrieval devices achieve a throughput of up to 100 two-way movements per hour. The outgoing pallets pass via a conveyor to the acceptance station for the forklifts that are connected directly to the high bay racking. At the same time, the RFID aided order picking processes are carried out in the block warehouse.

Panek continued: "SSI Schaefer has provided us with an automated storage and tracking solution that provides maximum warehouse capacity and throughput – the integrated process control has also resulted in the reduction of order picking errors."

The system is designed so that Budweiser Budvar can integrate future changes to business processes, for example, a rail connection is already being planned and the conveyor will be re-designed to transport larger industrial 120 x 100 cm pallets.

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