Consafe Logistics has a wide experience of automation control, including cranes, track systems and paternoster systems. Now its Astro WMS® has taken control of 22 unmanned LGVs (Laser Guided Vehicles) at Carlsberg’s Swedish plant in Falkenberg, south Sweden.

Every day, Carlsberg Sweden produces more than 1,500 pallets holding different beverages in aluminium cans, PET bottles, glass bottles and barrels at their plant in Falkenberg. Another 1,000 pallets with finished goods such as their Ramlösa water brand arrive at the warehouse to be loaded and distributed, together with the beverages produced on-site. Before the high season the company moves up to 45,000 pallets using an external warehouse. The warehouse in Falkenberg has a maximum capacity of 25,000 pallets. There’s no doubt that there’s a lot going on there.

Astro WMS® controls both manual and automated goods handling

Carlsberg Sweden’s customers are the grocery market, restaurant trade, the Swedish state alcohol shop (Systembolaget) and for export. Customer orders are picked manually with the help of trucks, and TraffiCom truck-mounted computers and lift equipment. Unmanned LGVs manage whole pallets with the capacity to move two pallets simultaneously. Astro WMS® controls both manual and automatic handling as well as providing the backend logic.

Manual picking

The Astro WMS® picking optimisation function calculates what will be picked on every pallet and in which order. This maximizes the capacity of every pallet, while the system minimises the transport distance and reduces the number of lifts for pickers. Astro WMS® knows exactly how many trays/crates can be placed on one pallet, how high they can be stacked and which articles can be stacked on top of each other.

Whole pallet handling

The 22 LGVs driving round the warehouse perform several functions. They are used to replenish consumables for production, empty production lines, storage, replenish picking areas, pick whole pallets for customers and cross-docking. Picking area replenishment and whole pallets to customers are dispatched via the transfer track. Manual trucks are used for activities within picking areas and loading areas. When there is no order to handle, Astro WMS® creates moving assignments to optimize space use in the warehouse. The LGVs re-rank pallets according to a better ABC frequency and consolidate
half-full deep stacking areas and batches. This optimises and frees up space in the buffer warehouse when new production batches arrive from the production area, increasing warehouse capacity.

Everything communicates with each other

It’s fascinating to see these large LGVs performing their tasks. It’s possible thanks to very tight communication between Astro WMS® and the LGV system. Astro WMS® sends drive orders to the LGV-system according to priority. The LGV-system has a buffer with drive orders and prioritises these according to a P number and the current traffic situation. The information flow looks like the one in the diagram below:

System overview LGV
Carlsberg System overview LGV

A change with many positive aspects

The introduction of the LGVs has had many positive effects. In addition to increased warehouse capacity the change has led to better FIFO/FEFO management. Production has become more even as there is always an LGV ready to take care of produced goods or to refill empty packaging. Production does not have to be supervised 24/7. Safety at the warehouse has been further improved as there is no normal truck traffic in the entire warehouse area. Costs for damaged goods and damage to pallets has been reduced as the trucks are now guided by laser. As they drive at a constantly low speed the environment has become cleaner with less dust. “At Carlsberg we have a long relationship with Consafe Logistics. Astro WMS® was installed more than 10 years ago and we are satisfied with how the solution now also runs our LGVs. It brings many advantages that the same WMS® controls both manual and automated warehouse management”, comments Niclas Persson, System Manager, WMS®. “We are very proud of our partnership with one of the world’s largest breweries. Right now we are working on several innovative projects for the Carlsberg group, including an automatic picking plant at their Distribution centre in Oslo”, says Roger Skoglund, Key Account Manager at Consafe Logistics.