Wondersun Dairy is a leader in the Chinese dairy industry. Through aggressive expansion plans, it has become a household name in China supplying a quality range of fresh, long-life powdered milk and infant formula products under famous brand names like Sunshine Dairy.
In a recent project, Wondersun engaged the design skills of Dematic’s China team to conceive and build a new distribution and quality control center for its Harbin plant in the north of China.
The plant has the capacity to produce 800 tons of liquid milk every day and up to 280,000 tons of fresh milk annually.
Integrated storage and handling
In addition to product storage and handling, Dematic faced the additional challenge of developing a batch track and trace system to enhance product security and build better customer satisfaction.
From the very beginning of the project, Wondersun decided it wanted to partner world class suppliers with extensive experience in the dairy industry. The entire production supply chain uses advanced processes and equipment from leading suppliers like GEA, ABB, Tetrapak and, of course, Dematic.
High capacity, high performance ASRS
Dematic provided a 23m high automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) with a capacity of 7,800 locations serviced by six RapidStore Unit Load storage and retrieval machines (SRMs).
The distribution center is temperature-controlled, with the ASRS primarily used as a finished goods warehouse. The solution is ideal as it provides efficient in-feed, out-feed and safe product handling.
The ASRS system integrates storage, production and distribution via computer control, and works
efficiently to eliminate losses previously experienced with manual handling methods.
The system also maintains records of product age, batch, quantity, and stock distribution, while at the same time providing high-density storage and optimum space utilization.
Interfacing with production
The ASRS lies at the end of an automated production line. After milk cartons come off the production line, automated robots pack goods into cases and check-weigh. Once cases are sealed, they are conveyed to palletizing robots capable of operating around the clock.
“The whole process is quite impressive,” said one field operator. Dematic integrated palletizing robots into its solution so that they can group finished goods and match goods information with pallets. Robots palletize ases in a “flower shape” which ensures stability during transport and minimizes the risk of product damage during handling.Each robot performs at the rate of around six full-time employees, and can control up to three production lines at the same time.”
Efficient quality control
Dematic transfer cars are also used in the solution. These are used to transport finished pallets to quality control stations where the system checks pallet data and stack shape in detail. Once checked, pallets are assigned to storage locations according to Dematic’s warehouse management and location control software.
The project, which was commissioned in early 2010, has since delivered substantial benefits for Wondersun. Commenting on the system’s performance, Wondersun Dairy’s Maintenance and Administration Supervisor, Mr Sun Yingkai, said: “The most impressive thing is that the system is safer, more reliable and more effective.” “The productivity of operators has increased by 600%. What’s more, any dairy consumers concerns about product quality have been allayed,” added Mr Sun.
“Thanks to the integrated system, Wondersun can provide customers with full visibility about the place of milk origin, raw material suppliers, production date, production batch numbers, working shift, operators, finished goods inspectors, release staff, and where every batch is stored and dispatched to,” he said. “Most importantly, the solution ensures a superior level of quality control for Wondersun.”