Pepsi Facility Adds AS/RS to Handle Peaks

The Pepsi Beverages Company’s (PBC) distribution facility in Tampa, FL worked with Westfalia Technologies, Inc. to commission an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) and Savanna.NET Warehouse Control System (WCS). PBC wanted a high density AS/RS that would act as a buffer during peak production from its bottling plant and aid in preparing various types of pallets to ship to customers.

Savanna.NET WCS manages and controls all product flows throughout the facility from receiving to order fulfillment. PBC requires full layer and mixed layer palletizing so store-ready pallets can be loaded onto their straight and bay trucks. Among the technologies controlled via Savanna.NET WCS are the two Storage/Retrieval Machines (SRMs) of the AS/RS, conveying systems for pallets & cases, five KUKA robots for layer picking / palletizing, pallet squaring stations, stretch-wrapping, print & apply labeling, and the integration of the WCS to PBC’s existing ERP/WMS system.

Pepsi’s commitment to environmental issues and waste reduction was a major driver of this project, according to PBC sources. Compared to a conventional warehouse, the multiple deep design also offers financial benefits as storage space is maximized, which translates into reduced building construction costs, lower sustainable operating costs (reduced energy, labor and product waste costs), as well as increased inventory accuracy. An addition to the existing facility, this new compact warehouse uses only 30% of the footprint of a conventional facility, thereby having less impact on the environment too.

“Automated order fulfillment at the case and layer level is clearly the direction many of our clients are heading,” said Dan Labell, President of Westfalia Technologies, Inc.

From the bottling lines, palletized products are delivered to the AS/RS for storage. As pallets are needed for order selection, they are placed by the SRMs into pick and build positions, and transferred via Westfalia’s TC1500 Single Transfer Car with Satellite into a buffer zone serviced by a KUKA Linear Gantry. Known as the High Speed Layer Pick (HSLP) system, the gantry picks single SKU layers at the rate of 3,000 cases per hour utilizing two robotic layer grippers suspended from an overhead gantry. Two additional robotic gantry grippers are used to remove and replenish the empty pallets.

Another component of the automated system is the Mixed Layer Pick (MXLP) system, which through manual Pick-to-Light case picking, automated material handling conveyors and robotic palletizing form and build layers of mixed SKU by like-package-type cases, at a rate of 2,000 per hour. These HSLP and MXLP rates are over five times the manual pick rates of PBC’s traditional warehouses. KUKA Systems’ layer forming software is used to build the layers, and all product movements and robot missions are tracked and managed by Savanna.NET WCS.

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