High density storage system has pallets on the run

MURRAY Goulburn, Australia's largest exporter of processed food, has commissioned the country's first Pallet Runner high density storage system at its Integrated Logistics Centre at Laverton in Victoria.

MURRAY Goulburn, Australia’s largest exporter of processed food, has commissioned the country’s first Pallet Runner high density storage system at its Integrated Logistics Centre at Laverton in Victoria.

Designed and installed by Dematic, the Pallet Runner system sets new standards for space utilisation and operator productivity.

Combining the density of drive-in racking with the benefits of pallet flow, the Pallet Runner system uses self-propelled ‘intelligent’ carts to handle pallets within the storage system.

The Pallet Runner carts run on rails, which pass under each pallet location on each level of the storage system.

Unlike other storage system layouts, which require multiple access aisles, Pallet Runner systems only require aisles for pallet entry and retrieval, making them very space efficient – the longest single lane in the new high density store is 58 pallets deep.

The new high density store was required to support a doubling of ultra high temperature-treated (UHT) production capacity from 750 pallets to more than 1,500 pallets per day at Murray Goulburn’s Leongatha processing plant.

“With minimal storage space at our manufacturing facilities, the effectiveness of product handling and storage within our Integrated Logistics Centre (ILC) is critical,” said Murray Goulburn’s national storage & distribution manager, Phil Saunders.

“To handle the increased output from Leongatha, we needed to establish a new warehouse within the ILC.

“We had a 6,000 square metre warehouse on the site that we had been using as an empty pallet store – we usually have around 165,000 pallets on site at any one time – and decided to utilise this building and relocate the empty pallet store.

“However, the existing warehouse was not large enough to achieve the storage capacity we required using conventional storage systems and handling methods,” said Saunders.

“Our storage system partner, Dematic, carried out an extensive analysis of all storage systems and methods to establish which would be the best fit for our batch processed products and stock movement patterns.”

The Pallet Runner concept came out the clear winner, providing space for around 14,500 pallets compared to about 9,000 for Drive-In Racking.

“The Pallet Runner concept offers excellent potential for manufacturers and companies that need to store large quantities of pallets of the same product to significantly reduce their storage and handling costs,” said Saunders.

“As well as providing excellent space utilisation, the Pallet Runner system enables us to handle double the throughput with less than half the operators it would require with any other type of storage system, such as Drive-In Racking,” he said.

Murray Goulburn’s in-house WMS, Trax, controls the handling of pallets via RF terminals on the forklifts.

Because the Pallet Runner carts operate automatically and independently within the system, forklift operators are free to focus on bringing product to and from the racking without the need to drive into the rack.

The carts can be easily lifted out of one storage lane and transferred to another by a forklift, meaning a single cart can service multiple lanes.

Murray Goulburn is using nine Pallet Runner carts, with three spares for back up and for use during busy periods to increase throughput.

Dematic integrated the operation of the Pallet Runner carts into Murray Goulburn’s existing RF system, eliminating the need for a separate dedicated Pallet Runner Remote Control System.

When pallets are to be put-away, the forklift operator first loads the motorised Pallet Runner into the relevant put-away lane, then loads the pallet into the lane. Upon receipt of the put-away instruction from the forklift operator’s RF system, the motorised cart drives under the pallet to be put-away. A hydraulic lifting platform then raises the pallet, and proceeds to transport it to the required put-away location within the lane.

By the time the forklift operator has placed the next pallet to be put away, the motorised cart is ready to begin its next put-away cycle.

Pallets are fed into the storage system from one end, and retrieved from the other.

A specific requirement for Murray Goulburn was for the storage system to include means by which it could pre-assemble and stage orders. Because of this, 18 lanes within the Pallet Runner system are used for staging orders.

The staging lanes each hold up to 34 pallets, which equates to a full B-Double truck load.

The quick turnaround of pick-up vehicles is essential for Murray Goulburn to distribute the high volume of goods stored in the new warehouse. The Pallet Runner system makes it possible for a load of 34 pallets to be unloaded from the store and loaded onto a truck in just 34 minutes.

* Carole McCormick is marketing manager, Dematic.

For more information contact:

Dematic

P – 03 9535 3500

W – www.dematic.com.au

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