Casebook 2011: Arla Foods adds automatic guided vehicles

After conveyors and manual warehouse trucks, a dairy company puts AGVs to work.

By ·

Arla Foods was interested in automation, but the cramped space and uneven floor levels in its 1974 warehouse in Sweden demanded a unique solution. With a fleet of resilient automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) and traffic control software (Kollmorgen, 540-467-3086, http://www.kollmorgen.com), the company safely and efficiently modernized its operations.

Arla Foods is Europe’s second-largest dairy company with operations in Europe and North America. The site in Gothenburg, Sweden, is one of three production facilities and serves the western region of the country. Back in 2004, the outdated conveyor system that used to transport dairy products from the production area to refrigerated storage was replaced with five manual warehouse trucks operating two shifts a day.

As Arla continuously looked for ways to cut costs in warehouse operations, automated warehouse trucks emerged as an attractive option because the vehicles can be cost effective and flexible. In 2009, Arla installed an AGV system handling 600 to 800 transportation tasks per day. After automating the transportation of dairy goods from the production area to refrigerated storage, the company significantly cut its operating costs.

Gothenburg’s new system design took on a number of challenges. AGVs would need to operate reliably around personnel and order-picker trucks, handle frequent temperature changes from refrigerated to warehouse, and deal with uneven floors inherited from the original building.

Six manual trucks were replaced with six AGVs running two shifts a day. The software for traffic control and order management was integrated with the existing warehouse management system, providing greater accuracy and additional flexibility.

“We are free to change goods locations and the warehouse layout whenever we need to, which was a great advantage,” says project manager Åke Larsson. “With the new system we get a constant traffic flow.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Mobile Solutions: Improving Supply Chain Efficiencies
To meet customer's ever-increasing service expectations and improve their business efficiency, companies are looking to their supply chain operations – especially material handling and warehouse operations managers.
Download Today!
From the February 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
In warehouses and DCs, planning solutions tend to take a back seat to execution system functions. Vendors are working to boost the trust factor using tools that break down forecasts and blend with analytics.
Automated Storage on the Move
Receiving 101: Setting the Table for Success
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2016 Warehouse/DC Operations Webcast: Confronting omni-channel complexity
During this webcast we’ll examine the current activities, trends, and best practices in warehouse and DC operations management and how companies plan to address complex issues associate with omni-channel fulfillment.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Johnson & Johnson: A vision for automation
J&J Vision Care brings together a variety of automated technologies, including an innovative...
Using AGVs at LEDVANCE
The lighting manufacturer reaped savings by reducing maintenance costs and product damage, and using...

System Report: Sustainable Distribution at REI
Specialty outdoor retailer REI’s new distribution center brings together the next generation of...
System Report: Whirlpool puts mobile robots to work
In Whirlpool Corp.’s Clyde, Ohio, factory, mobile robots have automated the delivery of parts to...