Miller Brewing Company (now part of Molson Coors) wanted to improve their warehouse operation to better serve their distributors, improve operational efficiency, and decrease costs. Their brewery in Albany, Georgia was selected as the location to automate to improve service to the South and Southeastern part of the United States.
Project objectives included improving:
- Inventory availability to better fulfill distributor orders,
- Truck loading efficiency and volume
- Inventory accuracy while decreasing operational costs
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) pick up double pallets from palletizers and deliver them to floor storage, store them in the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS), or cross-dock them directly to rail or truck docks.
Pallets are staged at the truck docks in load sequence to optimize the loading process. Deep-lane floor storage handle fast moving items, while the AS/RS primarily stores the other 300 SKUs and single pallet items.
AGVs take pallets to a rework area if any pallets are misaligned or are short of product. Finished pallets are not handled manually until AGVs pick them up from the staging area near the docks.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
The system operates with 32 laser-guided vehicles AGVs in constant communication with the control software that manages movement, traffic, and status. Each of these trailing fork AGVs can carry two 2,500-pound pallets to floor storage, to the AS/RS, or to the rail or truck shipping docks.
The AGVs have an automated battery charging and exchange system, which enables the AGV system to run and operate without human interaction.
Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS)
Located in an adjacent warehouse, the four-aisle rack supported storage structure has 12 tiers and 54 bays of double deep rack, creating a total of 10,368 storage locations. Each storage location can accommodate loads measuring 36 x 48 x 82 inches high.
Four 110-foot-tall unit load Storage and Retrieval Machines (SRMs) transport two 2,500 pound loads at one time and exchange loads via conveyor located at the front of the AS/RS. The SRM design provides smooth, safe, and accurate handling while keeping track of inventory in real time.
Software and controls for the system were designed and installed by Dematic. Dematic Software manages inventory storage and retrieval, assigns rack locations, manages floor storage, manages truck/rail shipping, coordinates the AGVs, controls conveyor operation, and communicates with the facility’s Warehouse Management System.