Coping with Covid-19: Why automation is now even more important for Food and Beverage warehouses

Coping with Covid-19: Why automation is now even more important for Food and Beverage warehouses

As the Food and Beverage industry faces new challenges, including growing concern about hygiene and safety due to Covid-19, automation is proving invaluable. One of the foremost questions companies in the F&B industry are asking is, “How do we guarantee the safety of our own people first while mitigating supply-chain risks,” says Leon Pieters, Global Consumer Products Leader at Deloitte. Automated warehouse systems, such as those offered by Modula, increase storage capacity, and improve turnaround times while preserving safe distances between workers essentially for coping with the coronavirus.

 Modula vertical lift modules (VLMs) have long been a valued partner for companies that rely on automation, due to their flexibility, superior design, and ease of use. Available in a wide range of models, Modula VLMs are vertical storage towers that can be up to 52 feet tall. They store goods in a safe, secure environment and provide automated delivery to operators.

The ergonomic benefits alone are significant. Because workers avoid unnecessary bending, walking, and reaching for parts, the VLMs all but eliminate the worker safety issues common to typical warehouses. Workers can stand at their machines and retrieve all the parts needed without walking around the floor and passing other workers, making it easy to adhere to the six-foot minimum distance. In addition, the machines provide an instant update of the inventory as each item is retrieved, providing managers real-time data that can be critical to avoid oversupplies or undersupplies of goods.

These features make Modula VLMs the ideal solution for improving internal warehouse management in any environment and industrial sector, and Food & Beverage is no exception.

Many of the best-known brands in the world, including Krones, Sidel, ACMI, SACMI, ELETTRIC 80, have adopted Modula automated storage solutions, both to serve production lines and to store components and spare parts for the maintenance department. In so doing, these companies have effectively decreased the time spent searching for and transporting goods while optimizing space and reducing the physical effort of the operators. Here are some examples of how leading food and beverage companies are employing Modula VLMs:

  • Vonpar Refrescos, a Coca-Cola bottler in South America, is able to store the bulky parts required for format changes in the Modula units, due to the 13-foot-wide trays their models employ.
  • Sidel uses a pair of Modula units to serve packaging machines and filling lines for drinks by storing in the units replacement parts for machines or finished products, such as pistons and robotic arms.
  • In its Parma plant, Barilla uses vertical storage solutions with external bays to hold the bulky dies used to cut pasta. The external bay allows an operator to employ robots, manipulator arms and lifting devices, required because the dies can weigh as much as 440 lbs.
  • Grissin Bon, Centro Carni di Padova, and Pane Morato use the same type of vertical storage solution to stock spare parts needed to maintain production plants.
  • Syngenta Seeds, located in Washington State in the USA, purchased 2 VLMs. The first unit is dedicated to seed sample storage. The second supports their lab operations. Both units are used in a controlled climate environment and provide significant space savings. The units also help provide key reporting features to help track crop information.
  • Thanks to Modula's ability to operate at temperatures down to 32°F, Inalca (Cremonini Group) purchased three Modula units, one of which used in the cold storage area.
  • Aurora Organic Dairy, a dairy farmer and milk bottler, has purchased 4 Modula units for their facility in Missouri and Colorado. Two Modula Lift ML75D are used to store the maintenance parts needed for all their processing equipment while the other 2 units are utilized in the sample testing area, in a temperature-controlled environment.

Another popular application of Modula VLMs in food & beverage is label storage. Thanks to Modula’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) software and its Copilot operator console,  with a single click an operator can retrieve the label needed during production while keeping inventory and quantities under control. The famous chocolate company Venchi, as well as Ferrari, Colli del Soligo, Cantine Mezzacorona, and Contri wineries, have at least one Modula unit deployed to store and track all their labels. The same process has been adopted by several vinegar and olive oil producers, Acetificio Ortalli, Acetaia Leonardi, and Bunge among them.

Another example is a Taiwanese food company, Jin Ding, which has eliminated picking errors and speeded the preparation of orders. As Jin Ding’s warehouse manager, Jarry Liu, says, “Now three or four workers can do the same job that previously would have required eight to 10 workers. Modula units have dramatically improved our work efficiency while eliminating picking errors.” Many companies have also adopted Modula VLMs to store finished or semi-finished products to significantly reduce picking errors and speed up order preparation. Spendrups, one of the largest beer producers in Sweden, stores low-movement products in a Modula VLM, as well as inventories of finished products such as boxes of beer and wine.

Pick-to-light systems and laser pointers quickly guide workers to select the right item, cutting out common errors that arise when humans have to make repeated judgment calls all day. As long as information about an item has been entered accurately when it’s placed in the VLM, a worker will get the right item each time the order is fulfilled.

With all of these systems in place, a Food and Beverage company no longer has a single automation improving its operations, but rather an integration of automation that allow them to streamline production while recovering up to 90% of the currently occupied floor space, using your facility’s vertical space to its fullest potential. Investing in an automated warehouse today means your company will be one step ahead in the Food and Beverage industry going forward.


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