An innovative robotic layer picking system integrated by Dematic for Nestlé Australia won three logistics awards at the recent 2011 Australian Supply Chain and Logistics Awards.
Presented by the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia in Perth in November, Nestlé was awarded the SCLAA’s Manufacturing Logistics, Storage and Handling of Materials, and Supply Chain Management Awards for the project at its Arndell Park national distribution centre (DC) in Sydney’s western suburbs.
The innovative 4-axis robotic layer picker installed by leading intelligent logistics and materials handling solutions specialist Dematic has transformed workplace safety and significantly improved the quality and productivity of mixed pallet assembly for Nestlé Australia.
The high volume DC stores and distributes several hundred products from Nestlé’s consumer food and beverage, food service and pet food businesses, with high demand ensuring 80% of the orders are distributed as full pallets.
The remaining 20% of orders, distributed in pallet layer and full case quantities required manual handling of around five million cases per year, creating a significant and ongoing OH&S challenge.
Nestlé’s innovative layer picking solution eliminates the need to manually handle around four million cases, substantially reducing OH&S issues.
Integrated by Dematic, the new 4-axis robotic layer picker is equipped with a dual bellows and vacuum-gripping head capable of handling up to 80% of Nestlé’s product range, covering a broad range of packaging types from cartons to bags and bottled beverages.
Orders from Nestlé’s SAP warehouse management system are downloaded into Dematic’s PickDIRECTOR warehouse control system to initiate picking. Interfacing with Dematic’s FreePICK Maximiser patented software, PickDIRECTOR orders the stock required for layer picking in the sequence required to fulfil the next wave of orders.
As new pallets of stock are fed into the system, the layer picker selects the required layers and transfers the stock to one of four customer order pallets. Any stock remaining on a pallet either forms the basis for another order via the system’s FreePICK Maximiser software, or is returned to the adjacent reserve storage bays for use at a later stage.
Completed orders are conveyed through the integrated layer picking system as they are checkweighed, stretchwrapped and labelled on the way, until they exit ready for collection and transport to despatch by forklift.
Orders that require individual case picks to be added to the layers exit the system, and are completed using the DC’s new voice picking system.
Very high throughput rates are achieved by the 4-axis robotic layer picker thanks to Dematic’s FreePick Maximiser software. Additionally, the software cross-matches orders and pairs those with compatible order profiles to enable 20-50% of goods to be distributed without being physically picked.
The Just Group, another Dematic customer won the SCLAA’s Information Management Award for the implementation of a Bluetooth-enabled stocktaking solution, RapidStocktake that has helped the retail group increase efficiency, save time and enhance productivity.