Warehouse automation specialist, KNAPP, has developed an innovative order picking solution for containers in the food retail sector.
Branded as the FAST – Fully Automated Standard Tray – picking system, the new solution handles products automatically from goodsin to goods-out. The system was installed by KNAPP recently in the distribution centre of the Zurich region co-operative of Migros, Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain.
Gentle and error-free handling
With the reusable and disposable containers that are typical in grocery retail for fresh produce weighing up to 30kg each, Migros wanted to avoid manual handling by its employees. The Zurich warehouse handles the distribution for some 400 SKUs of fruit, vegetables and eggs. The new FAST technology is suitable for handling not only reusable plastic containers but also the disposable cardboard cartons used in food distribution. In addition, the FAST solution meets the sector’s requirements for gentle and hygienic handling, error-free picking, product traceability and shop-friendly deliveries.
All incoming fresh products are depalletized, stored, picked and palletized – according to store orders – fully automatically. At the heart of the solution is a 4-aisle OSR Shuttle™ system and brand-new destacking and stacking modules. With limited space available at the site, the compact construction of the OSR Shuttle™ allowed the storage system to be installed within a footprint of just 2000m².
At goods-in, loads are automatically depalletized and a pair of container stacks is delayered in each of two parallel destacking machines. The containers are stored temporarily in the OSR Shuttle™ as a fast buffering system. When all store orders have been received, a stacking algorithm is used to calculate a retrieval strategy – taking into account load stability, shop-friendly delivery sequencing and packing density on the pallet. The containers are retrieved from the OSR Shuttle™ according to the stacking sequence and transported to a series of buffer lanes, each of which holds the exact amount of product needed to build an order stack.
Optimal load construction
Four specially designed stacking modules allow standard crates, collapsible crates and cartons to be picked in a stable and secure way – even for fragile goods such as eggs. The system achieves high packing density, which results in optimal space utilisation in the delivery vehicles and at the retail stores. Completed loads are secured for transport, automatically labelled and then conveyed to a pick-up point for loading onto a vehicle by a fork-lift truck.