The Customer and their Requirements

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) has been located in Northmead, Australia for more than 30 years and over this time, has experienced high levels of continuous growth. The Northmead plant manufactures 60 million unit cases of soft drinks per year, producing product in cans at 2,000 per minute and PET bottles at 600 per minute. As CCA outgrew its on-site warehousing facilities, stock was 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.

CCA required a new system to completely modernise their warehousing in Northmead and consolidate storage onto a single site. The new facility needed to address chain of responsibility requirements for transport and ensure accurate and timely replenishment to their 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 their strategic growth platform whilst also meeting FIFO, quality and delivery requirements.

The Solution

Swisslog worked in collaboration with CCA to assess the feasibility of different distribution options applicable to their New South Wales (NSW) operations, before designing the materials handling solution. Once the business requirements were determined and the design levels forecast and set, efforts shifted to designing the best material handling solution. Swisslog produced a design which focused on innovative methods of combining and evolving proven technology to the site limitations and also on optimising the entire facility to provide the most cost effective solution.

Key design elements are:

Storage Systems: Given CCA‘s high pallet storage requirement and their 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 whilst the system automatically stages the next load. In order to achieve the targeted truck turnaround 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.

The 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.

“The quality of solution offered by Swisslog outstripped their competitors and reflected their knowledge of CCA’s business needs,” says Derek O‘Donnell, National Logistics & Planning Manager – Supply Chain, Coca-Cola Amatil.

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