Getting orders out fast, accurately and efficiently is something that is now an automated, efficient process for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, a family owned and operated bread and roll manufacturer. The Chambersburg, Pa.-based company has long been known for the quality of its rolls and other baked goods, including its popular hamburger and hot dog buns.
Before going with an automated approach to storage and order fulfillment, the company’s previous processes were largely manual and labor intensive. As a result, Martin’s was struggling with space constraints in their warehouse, order fulfillment errors and employee safety concerns.
Since its founding in the 1950s, the company has grown from a small bakery in the family’s garage to a global manufacturer serving 16 countries with customers ranging from retail stores to institutions.
Keeping up with growth, especially during busy summer months, was causing operational issues, so the company turned to automation to find a way to efficiently store pallet loads of fresh goods coming out of its bakery production lines, and quickly and flexibly fill orders with those goods.
The search led the company to choose an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) solution integrated with a layer picking system, all managed by a warehouse execution system (WES). The extensive research included site visits with system providers and visits to customer installations to evaluate the strength of potential suppliers. The company chose an AS/RS solution (Westfalia Technologies) that stores and retrieves pallets of fresh baked goods coming from the bakery. The design integrates with a robotic layer picking system (Cimcorp) for further processing of customer orders, while Westfalia’s Savanna.NET WES software manages the inventory and the order fulfillment process for the overall solution.
Westfalia’s high-density AS/RS stores pallets of reserve product in a rack structure six pallets deep, housing approximately 2,000 pallets. Two tandem storage and retrieval machines (called S/RMs) store and retrieve pallets to and from the rack structure.
The WES software manages inventory for the integrated solution, orchestrates the order fulfillment process and provides for product traceability.
The AS/RS is integrated with Cimcorp’s MultiPick System, a fully automated, robotic materials handling solution and layer picking system, and Westfalia’s outfeed conveyor system. This combination enables the fast fulfillment of single and multi-SKU orders.
With Westfalia’s AS/RS, the layer picking automation and automated conveyance, the Martin’s facility has increased its space utilization by 50% and is more efficiently storing, retrieving and managing pallets of finished goods. The automated layer pick solution has improved labor efficiency by 50%, while ensuring 95% order accuracy.
Since the system allows the company to take orders up until the last minute with complete accuracy, it has eliminated the need for reloads—dramatically increasing throughput times for outbound orders. In addition, the new system provides Martin’s with a complete visibility that enables the company to conduct field to fork traceability that exceeds FDA standards.
According to Tony Martin, president of Martin’s, the automation not only makes the operation more efficient, the system’s speed and flexibility allows for orders to be adjusted up to within an hour of truck departure—a boon to customer service—without necessitating manual reloading or extra work to accommodate customer needs.
“Since the installation of the AS/RS, we have been able to complete full pallet orders with greater efficiency than ever before with fewer physical demands on our warehouse staff,” Martin says. “Based on the safety and efficiency gains achieved, we are considering similar systems for our other bakery.”
The AS/RS at the facility occupies 15,250 square feet of the 55,520 square foot warehouse space, with the storage density of the AS/RS being the key to the 50% gain in space utilization versus the site’s previous, more conventional storage.
There are 1,873 pallet rack positions in the AS/RS, which can induct or output 101 pallets of goods per hour, per S/RM. There are five truck staging lanes integrated with the system, holding up to 54 pallets. The AS/RS includes independent movable cabs to allow access to the system structure for safe and easy maintenance.
Westfalia’s WES orchestrates the entire operation, maintaining the inventory in both the AS/RS and the MultiPick system. To increase order accuracy and product traceability, the WES is integrated with Martin’s order processing and enterprise systems.