Ultra-modern distribution centre automation for Valio

Sep 06, 2005
Cimcorp Headquarters

MultiPick® order picking systems have now shown their effectiveness in a hectic dairy distribution centre. Thanks to order picking automation supplied by Cimcorp, Valio’s Jyväskylä and Riihimäki distribution centres are the most automated in the whole world.

Renowned for its innovativeness and quality, Valio has initiated a development process related to material functions, whereby the company aims to gain competitive advantage and increase cost-effectiveness. The objective is to have automated order picking of over 90 percent of their 1240 products and to cut the number of distribution warehouses from six to three.

“The distribution centre automation that Cimcorp has developed fits perfectly with Valio’s development and objective-driven approach,” states Valio’s logistics director, Thomas Backlund.

The distribution centre automation supplied by Cimcorp controls the flow of products arriving from production up to the loading bays of the delivery vans. All the product transfer, handling and order picking stages are performed automatically. Outgoing goods enter the order picking system either from the production of the same factory or from some other production facility. Valio supplies the majority of its products to the customers in full crates, so the core of the entire system is formed by MultiPick order picking robots designed for crate picking.

One innovation that Cimcorp has developed is the MultiplePick gripper for product row order picking, which completes the company’s product portfolio for automated order picking.

 “Our clients also definitely wanted to automate the order picking of split crates too, so we accepted this challenge,” explains sales manager Tero Peltomäki. ”We developed the MultiplePick gripper in connection with this project, which can pick from one to four gable-top rows inside the dairy crate at a time. In this way we are able to collect mixed crates according to customer orders. The same gripper can also be used for handling plastic trays with dividers, in which dairy products such as yoghurts are delivered.”

Freshness and speed go hand in hand

The distribution of dairy products is very demanding. The quicker the route from production to consumer, the longer these perishable products can be on sale. Short delivery times combined with demands for freshness set their own challenges for order picking. In the MultiPick system, this is solved so that the only storage between production and the customer is the buffer storage below the order picking robots, from where the products to be delivered are collected on the FIFO principle.

The effectiveness of order picking is facilitated by the speedy MultiPick robots, which are able to pick an ordered product from any storage position, and the Cimcorp WCS warehouse control system, which plans the order picking and robot paths optimally according to the customer order and distribution routes.

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