The biggest changes were planned for the firm’s largest facility, in Rugby: thanks to its central location in the heart of England, it constitutes a perfect hub for the distribution operations, but the existing equipment no longer sufficed to meet future requirements: “The old lines were running slowly, and were not very efficient in terms of water and energy consumption. Which is why we decided to install a total of seven new lines and a high-bay warehouse,” says Clive Hooper. Krones supplied the four PET lines, while the fully automated high-bay warehouse came from its Italian subsidiary System Logistics.
“When we chose Krones as the vendor for the PET lines, it was immediately clear that the high-bay warehouse, too, was going to be from System Logistics. This was because we wanted to single-source both production and logistics – and Krones with its House of Krones was offering the ideal complete package,” is how Clive Hooper sums up the situation.
We wanted to single-source both production and logistics – and Krones with its House of Krones was offering the ideal complete package.
Greenfield project: high-bay warehouse
The fully automated high-bay warehouse is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom – and is something new for System Logistics as well. This is because the company was responsible not only for the technology, but also for planning and constructing the entire peripherals, including an approximately 32-metre-high office building.
The finished cases are stored fully automatically: four pallets at a time are loaded from the line onto a large laser-guided vehicle (LGV) and taken to the ingress point of the shuttle vehicle loop, which links the production zone to the logistics halls. Small vehicles then transport the pallets individually into the high-bay warehouse, where they are stored with the aid of cranes. The warehouse is 13 storeys high and provides space for a total of 33,000 pallet storage slots. Britvic both stores and retrieves up to 376 pallets an hour.
The ‘fully automated’ attribute is reflected not only in the high output, but also in the comparatively low number of operators: only three to five staff are needed per shift for controlling and monitoring the ongoing process sequences. If a problem or a standstill occurs, the operators receive the relevant error message directly on a laptop or tablet, and can react to it directly via the mobile terminal. Only the final loading of the pallets onto trucks is handled semi-automatically, using PPT trucks.