Anheuser-Busch Improves Its Customer Response and Reduces Warehouse Operating Costs

Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC is an American brewing company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Since 2008, it has been wholly owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, now the world's largest brewing company, which owns multiple global brands, notably Budweiser, Michelob, Stella Artois, and Beck's. The company employs over 19,000 people and operates 12 breweries in the United States.

The challenge

As a market leader, Anheuser-Busch wanted to improve its customer response time and reduce warehouse operating costs.

To accomplish these long-term goals, a team of corporate engineers, local brewery personnel, and Dematic evaluated the feasibility of High Density Storage (HDS).

The primary considerations for the solution were the project location, its impact to current warehouse operations, and its effect on parking for wholesaler trucks because of limited space. The solution would need to reduce truck turnaround time and minimize the number of trucks on the property at any given time.

Solution Requirements

  • Reduced load time for wholesaler trucks
  • Improved plant floor space utilization
  • Reduced product damage
  • Improved product aging control (improved product freshness)

Our solution

The team selected and implemented the HDS solution featuring an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) that can hold 12,936 pallets with a throughput rate of 680 pallets per hour. Storage and Retrieval Machines (SRMs) move within the 98-foot-high rack structure to transfer pallets two at a time. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) transport pallet from the palletizer lines until they are needed at the shipping docks.

The AGVs have been a key element the success of the solution. The Dematic AGVs were installed during planned shutdowns to minimize disruptions to the brewery. They can handle two pallets simultaneously and feature automatic battery changing.

When a wholesaler truck arrives at the check-in station, an order is released to the system and the SRMs and AGVs begin to retrieve and deliver the specified pallets. By the time the truck arrives at the dock, pallets of product are waiting to be loaded.

This unique approach of handling two beverage pallets at a time for both transportation and storage within a warehouse provides Anheuser-Busch with ability to turn over the entire warehouse inventory in less than two days. This provides for highly responsive customer service and greatly reduced operating costs.

Technical data

AGV System Hardware

  • 40 AGVs
  • 32 ten-pallet load queuing rails
  • 2 sizing stations
  • Automatic battery management system

AS/RS System Hardware

  • 7 aisles of High Density Storage
  • 7 Dual-load SRMs
  • 12,936 pallet locations
  • Rack supported structure

Control System Hardware

  • Dematic controls software for AGV scheduling
  • Customized inventory control software
  • Real-time interface to Anheuser-Busch factory control software
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