Leading beverage distribution specialist, BevChain (a wholly owned subsidiary of Linfox), has further extended its commitment to work smarter for its customers, with the installation of a Swisslog PowerStore automated warehouse shuttle system.
BevChain installed the highly customisable Swisslog PowerStore system at its facility in Auburn, NSW, which is conveniently located adjacent to the brewery of one of its major customers.
“PowerStore is next generation warehouse automation. It has increased storage utilisation by around 60 per cent in the same building footprint, created a safer workplace for our people, and will deliver growth for our customers,” said Linfox President, BevChain, Misha Shliapnikoff.
BevChain delivers tailored beverage supply chain solutions across Australia and New Zealand. It leads the industry with 22 distribution centres across six states, handling more than 2.5 billion serving units annually.
PowerStore is ideally suited to applications seeking to achieve high throughput and optimal space utilisation, in industries such as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), e-grocery and pallet warehousing. PowerStore can also operate in a range of environments, from -30°C in frozen food storage up to 50°C, and can easily be retrofitted to warehouses with low ceilings or unusual shapes.
Swisslog’s PowerStore solution for BevChain consists of vertical conveyors that accommodate fast and effective pallet movements between levels, RowCarriers that retrieve from, and deliver pallets to, transfer stations at the vertical conveyor, and AisleCarriers that use precision lasers to transport RowCarriers between the vertical conveyor and the designated row.
Swisslog has more than 50 years of global experience in the design and implementation of pallet warehouses, and its PowerStore system complements a comprehensive range of highly customisable automation and Industry 4.0 solutions that Swisslog provides to retail, FMCG, food and beverage, logistics, transport, pharmaceutical and warehousing operations globally.
“The new 24/6 facility includes over 30,000 pallet locations, with vertical conveyors transferring pallets to and from one of five levels. It has 20 satellite AisleCarriers and RowCarriers, one in each level of the four quadrants transferring pallets to and from their location. This is all pre-determined by Swisslog’s intelligent SynQ software,” said Mr Shliapnikoff.
“This technology-driven facility is also giving our people the chance to gain new knowledge and skills in a warehouse of the future,” he said.
Swisslog’s advanced SynQ software is fully integrated with BevChain’s warehouse management system and creates a seamless operation. It ensures full traceability and trackability including batch numbers and visibility on storage and throughput, using automation for receipt despatch.
Swisslog Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Francis Meier, says the new PowerStore system provides safety and efficiency benefits to BevChain’s operations. “Replacing manual operations with an automated system increases the accuracy of picking and removes error, which leads to fewer returns, and greater profitability,” he said.
“The solution has delivered productivity benefits and makes the warehouse safer and quieter. And, because we were converting an existing manual warehouse, our team worked closely with BevChain to ensure the go-live phase was carried out in stages, to minimise the impact during commissioning,” he said.
“The working relationship with BevChain has been outstanding. Swisslog has been involved right from the beginning, in the ideas and design stages, and every step of the way, the two companies have worked together to achieve the best outcomes.”
Dedicated on-site systems operations team
To further enhance operational efficiency, and to ensure the system is always operating at optimal levels, BevChain partnered with Swisslog to bring on board a highly trained Swisslog system operations team to work in collaboration with BevChain onsite.
This core team strongly supports and works closely with BevChain to provide software support, training, condition monitoring and spare parts maintenance, to improve the overall lifecycle of the automation. They are focused on BevChain’s requirements and expertly maintain the complex task of maintaining continuous system performance.
Swisslog Maintenance Manager, Paul Woodward, says the team is performing exceptionally well at BevChain. “The training, commissioning and handover stages went very smoothly, with the team working well as a unit. Members of the same team that helped build the PowerStore solution are now part of the system operations team, which means they have a huge advantage when it comes to problem-solving and troubleshooting in the future. Knowing how the system is connected – including parts that are no longer easily accessible – can save a lot of time when identifying issues in the future,” he said.
Mr Shliapnikoff says, “we value the highly skilled, onsite Swisslog team who work in partnership with our people. They provide vital insights, immediate incident response and proactively monitor equipment to ensure maximum efficiency over its life span.”
“This site represents BevChain’s commitment to work smarter for our customers. We continue to invest in their future with high performing supply chains and best-in-class technology.”