Poland’s Zbyszko Company, specialists in the production of carbonated beverages and flavored waters, was established by Zbigniew Bojanowicz in 1993, in a small town called Bialobrzegi. Due to its continued proven innovativeness, the company became a powerhouse within a decade and was shortlisted among the four most successful domestic manufacturers in the market segment of fizzy beverages and waters.
At the end of 2003, the production potential of the plant tucked in between Warsaw and Radom peaked and it was decided that a new plant with the most innovative production and storage technologies would be built in Radom. Moving to the new facility became the company’s priority, which is why the investment was executed in a very short time. By May 1, 2004, the first bottle was spilt, inaugurating the production in the new center.
As Mark Algusiewicz, the project manager for MecaluxPolandoverseeing the installation, explains, "The automated systems applied in Zbyszko Company’s [warehouse] represent the first such project undertaken by Mecalux inPoland. Therefore, specialists from bothPolandandSpainwere involved in the implementation process. The difficulty was the complexity of the system itself, which impresses even people familiar with this type of storage systems."
Today, the company’s original vision of applying the most up-to-date technologies has come to fruition. The 131,000 square foot facility has its own laboratory, where it systematically tests the quality of products and their taste aspects, in addition to the technological lines and the warehouse being fully automated. The main production building produces more than 42,000 gallons of product per hour, (160,000 litres), employs over 100 people, and maintains three production lines, including an aseptic line adjusted to the production of preservative-free waters, juices and beverages.
Inside the facility is the production building. The construction of the high-bay warehouse operated by automated stacker cranes occupies a 32,000 square foot (10,000 m2) section of floor space and is equipped with loading ramps, which enable a dozen trucks per hour to be loaded. Mecalux supplied the comprehensive storage system.
The loaded pallets with packages of beverages released from the three bottling lines are directed to short roller conveyors, fitted with a comprehensive control system. The system directs the basic dimensions of pallets with loads, at the same time verifying the quality of the pallets (quality of skids and absence of obstructions in manipulation openings). Load units which do not comply with the assumed criteria are instantly discarded onto another conveyor for correction, whereas the acceptable pallets are inserted directly into automated pallet lifts which transports them about 16 feet (5 metres) above. This system receives up to 200 pallets per hour from the production area.
The production building is connected to the newly built warehouse by a bridge over 328 feet (100 m) long, wherein two lines of roller conveyors run next to each other. One line of conveyors transports pallets from the production area to the warehouse, the other runs in the opposite direction. Having passed the bridge, the pallets are inserted into the 5-meter high automated warehouse for pallets.
Automated High-Bay Warehouse
The automated warehouse for pallets has an 18,000 pallet capacity and is operated by 11 fully-automated stacker cranes. "The automated systems applied in Radom guarantee a high level of pallet and load controls,” said Zbyszko owner Zbigniew Bojanowicz, “as well as the streamlining of inventorying procedures and all the logistic processes within the plant." The cranes move quickly along their aisles handling pallet loads of up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg). Each stacker crane aisle is equipped with two conveyor lines in the warehouse front zone – one used for loading and the other for unloading. The application of a few buffer locations in each case allows the systems to avoid undesirable gridlocks. The relatively large repeatability of the stored articles enables the use of a double storage depth. This method is widely used in case of automated high-bay warehouses, because by sacrificing a comparatively small percentage of productivity, the storage capacity is easily doubled.
After a shipment order has been generated by Zbyszko’s ERP system, Mecalux’s warehouse management system, EasyWMS, executes the order automatically. While operating together with the product flow and device control system, Galileo, EasyWMS executes the whole operation of preparing a shipment automatically from the moment all the required pallets have been put out from the warehouse by stacker cranes until they are placed on shipment buffers in the goods shipment area, realized with the use of chain conveyors. Due to the application of inductive loops in the floor in the area of extracting pallets from conveyors, when a forklift truck moves away with a pallet, the next pallet is automatically brought to be collected. The key component of the goods shipment area is the overhead pallet Monorail transportation system, in which pallets are transported between different loading and unloading stations on special overhead trolleys (the so-called gondolas). “Particular attention should be paid to the Monorail system,” Algusiewicz said, “which is crucial to the process of releasing the goods from the warehouse. This system required the creation of a unique algorithm to meet the client’s expectations concerning its efficiency."
Each system’s track can be uniquely formed using curves, switches, ascending sections, etc. In the case of the design for Zbyszko, due to very high capacity-related requirements, a simple loop with one maintenance station was built. On one side of the loop pallets are loaded onto trolleys, whereas on the other they are unloaded. The system is operated by 21 individually controlled vehicles.
Automation of processes within a warehouse ensures effective use of the available storage space. For Zbyszko, the evolution towards an automated storage system was a consequence of its dynamic growth and the need to both modernize and optimize manufacturing and storage processes. The automated systems applied inRadomguarantee a high level control of pallets and loads on pallets, the streamlining of inventorying procedures and the affect the acceleration of execution of all the logistic processes within the plant. IT support and automation of logistic processes contribute to the elimination of errors, failures and losses resulting from hand operation.
The attractiveness of automated systems is multidimensional. In the face of ever-growing land prices and employment costs, the construction of a warehouse with the use of innovative storage concepts allows reducing investment costs and incurring lower outlays related to the operation of a warehouse during a long period of time. Zbyszko understood this concept and sank its teeth into automated innovation as soon as it could – ensuring none of its bubbles burst for the foreseeable future.