SSI Schaefer sets up DC for Vinamilk

SSI Schaefer has implemented the most modern distribution centre in the country for Vinamilk, the leading dairy company in Vietnam. It boasts a high-bay warehouse and conveying system with tailored system components, efficient material flows with the first electric rail guided vehicle system in Southeast Asia, as well as the use of WAMAS® intelligent logistics software. The complete systemoffers Vinamilk continuous automated processes with high capacity throughput.

Dubbed the ‘mega factory’ of Viet Nam Dairy Products Joint Stock Company (Vinamilk), the facility processes 400 million litres of milk a year. In April this year, production was expanded to include baby food. Vinamilk plans to increase the production volume progressively to reach 800 million litres next year.

The factory is fully automated to manage every stage of production from goods receiving of the milk and base materials up to end-product storage. “Controlled by a central IT system, this ensures the best quality of products and the highest efficiency in manufacturing and storage,” said Mai Kieu Lien, the company chairwoman of Vinamilk.

SSI Schaefer was awarded a contract for design, planning and implementation of the finished goods storage and distribution centre through an international tender. The intra-logistics specialists undertook to create a turnkey facility with a high-bay warehouse (HBW), front-zone, picking and shipping area in a timely manner for Vinamilk.

The DC is located next to the production buildings. Milk products, filled in TetraPaks, boxed and palletised, reach the “smart warehouse” via two transfer stations. The WAMAS logistics software of SSI Schaefer provides not only the warehouse management system, but also ensures efficient material flow control and picking processes.

Furthermore, an integrated visualisation system offers high transparency regarding plant capacity and processing states. “The WMS is one of the [special features] of the plant,” said Trinh Quoc Dung, factory manager at Vinamilk. “It directly communicates with our ERP system as well as the production management system, TetraPlant-Master. Production reports are easily accessible, offering high transparency and flexibility in the warehouse and allowing optimal tracking of our products.”

SSI Schaefer has installed a fully-automatic dynamic rail guided vehicle (RGV) system loop to service both transfer stations from production. The rail-based transport system is the centrepiece of the automated material flow. With 15 vehicles, it caters to all demand positions in the DC, delivering the pallets straight from production.

“This is the first time that SSI Schaefer has used an electric rail guided vehicle system for intra-logistic material flows in Southeast Asia,” explained Carsten Spiegelberg, general manager – Systems and Automation, Schaefer Systems International Pte Ltd, Singapore. “It enables efficient material flows with minimum space requirements.”

With its narrow curve radius and space-saving footprint, the 370m-long railway of the RGV system creates a “T” layout with the top portion of the “T” as the interface between production and the warehouse. The transfer systems from the production are located at this top portion. With double load handling devices, the RGV vehicles accept the pallets and move them with a speed of 90m/minute.

The finished goods product storage area has a height of nearly 32m. Nearly 28,000 storage positions are available in the eight aisles of the HBW for single-deep storage. They are designed for industry pallets mostly used in Asia (1,000mm x 1,200mm) with a weight of up to 1,100 kg. Up to 50 different items in three different product groups are on stock.

Efficiency of storage and goods retrieval is a key advantage. Within 60 minutes, the SRMs [spell out] can move 92 pallets from production into the HBW and store them. The RGV system works in parallel to transport up to 184 retrieval pallets per hour from the HBW into the shipping area.

What are the other impressive outcomes? Regardless of the complex material flows, 188 pallets per hour can be facilitated in shipping, 147 fully-wrapped pallets and 41 pick pallets. The current production volume of around 2,000 pallets per day is turned over in one shift.

“The process-optimising control by the WMS further reduces our throughput times and has reduced our error rate to nearly zero. The entire solution excellently supports our growth strategy,” explained Dung.