Miller Brewing Company wanted to improve their warehouse operation to better serve their distributors, improve operational efficiency and decrease costs within the warehouse. Miller’s Albany, Georgia Brewery was selected as the location to automate to improve service to the South and Southeastern part of the United States.
Dematic’s project objectives included improving inventory availability to better fulfill distributor orders, improving truck loading efficiency and volume, improving inventory accuracy while decreasing operational costs.
Dematic designed and integrated the following system to achieve outlined objectives:
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) pick up double pallets from palletizers and deliver the pallets to floor storage, the automated storage and retrieval system or are crossdocked directly to the rail or truck docks.
Pallets are staged at the truck docks in load sequence to further improve the loading process. Deep lane floor storage is used for fast moving items, while the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) is used primarily for storing the other 300 SKUs and single pallet items that Miller brews.
The AGV system can also be directed to take pallets to a rework area if any pallets are misaligned or are short of product. Finished goods pallets are not handled manually until they are picked up from the staging area located only a few feet from the docks.
Dematic’s construction management team selected and managed sub-contractors and completion of this 110 foot tall facility. The scope of the construction covered excavation, foundation, siding, roofing, electrical, heating and ventilation and included modification to the existing warehouse to interface to the ASRS.
Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV)
Thirty-two laser guided vehicles (non-wire) AGVs travel over 3,000 feet of path and are in constant contact with the software system that manages movement/traffic and status of the vehicles. Each of the trailing fork vehicles can carry two (2) 2,500 lb. pallets to floor storage, the ASRS or directly to the rail or truck shipping docks.
The AGV system features an automated battery charging and exchange system, which enables the AGV system to run and operate without human interaction.
Located adjacent to Miller’s existing 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” high.
Storage and Retrieval Machines (SRMs)
Four 110 foot tall unit load SRMs are capable of storing or retrieving two 2,500 lb. loads at one time. The SRMs receive and dispense loads via the input and output conveyor located at the front of the ASRS. The SRM’s design provides smooth, safe and accurate handling of loads within the storage system. Real time inventory is maintained for each unit stored.
The control systems for the ASRS, conveyors and floor inventory were all designed, programmed and installed by Dematic. The EMS system manages inventory storage and retrieval, assigns rack locations, manages the floor storage and truck/rail shipping, instructs the AGV systems and controls the conveyor operation functions while communicating with the facility’s Warehouse Management System.
The pallet conveyor system includes an ASRS conveyor consisting of eight individual input and output spurs interfacing to the SRMs, as well as the AGVs. Each ASRS conveyor handles two pallets side by side leading into and out of the ASRS. Each of Miller’s fourteen palletizer conveyors were modified and extended to provide accurate positioning for the AGV pickup. Each spur includes automated sizing to insure load integrity. Additionally, conveyors were used to handle incoming loads from other Miller DCs and to handle and wrap reworked pallets. All the conveyors are fully automated and are PLC controlled.