The basic concept of this inventory management system is to bring boxes of beef from the plant into the distribution area. They are then sorted to one of 3 areas consisting of carousel storage, accumulation sort deck or straight to shipping. The conveyor system that supports this process includes over 5,000 feet of powered conveyor and 4 different shoe sorters with a total of 49 divert locations.
5,000 head of cattle run through this plant every day creating up to 50,000 boxes of beef. For years this plant has succeeded in being very efficient on the production side and yet struggled with antiquated systems for picking and shipping the cases on the distribution side, highlighting the need for a new inventory management system.
KLG produced an award winning simulation detailing an automated inventory management system solution that would change all of that. With the customer's approval of the design and their belief in our commitment to the implementation of the project, KLG was chosen as the supplier for a new, totally automated material handling system. Several goals were established and met by this new inventory management system:
The entire inventory management system implemented at this site is virtually a hands free operation. In many instances, boxes of beef are delivered, stored, picked and shipped without ever being touched by a human hand. Record shipments are happening on a regular basis with efficiencies that would never have been achievable prior to the implementation of this new inventory management system.
Carousel Storage Area
Cases dedicated for the holding storage area are sent to one of 54 different horizontal carousels. The carousels are laid out 18 wide and triple stacked. Each stack of three carousels is loaded and unloaded automatically with an inserter / extractor robot. The boxes are stored in the carousels with one box per shelf location. This allows them to retrieve any one of tens of thousands of different cases at any time. These cases are stored and retrieved without ever having to be touched by personnel as part of the new inventory management system.
Palletizers & Unit Load AS/RS
The other area for cases to be directed from the conveyor system is to a pallet storage area. Cases are sent directly from production or from the carousel holding area to a shoe sorter where they are diverted into a large multi-lane accumulation deck. Here orders are pre-staged in accumulation lanes until a complete pallet of cases has arrived. These cases are then released from the conveyor lane to a palletizer. The unique dual feed entry palletizers have multi layer capabilities and their rugged design allows high throughput rates of up to 50 cases per minute, per machine.
After palletizing and stretch wrapping, the pallets are then delivered to one of two locations. Some pallets are ready for shipping and are sent straight to the shipping dock. The remaining pallets are held in storage using an AS/RS Unit Load Crane System. The pallets are automatically delivered via conveyor to the AS/RS Crane which delivers and retrieves them to and from a storage slot in the rack system. They are held here until time of shipment as part of the new inventory management system.
The ability of a mechanical inventory management system like this to operate properly would not be possible without the software to make it happen. KLG and Cirrus Tech partnered together for highly successful warehouse inventory management system software package implementation. This inventory management system tracks case movement, allocates storage slots, manages pick release timing, displays real time diagnostic displays, generates all shipping and inventory reports and much more.