ExMac Automation, the UK’s leading supplier of materials handling systems has completed all four phases of a major contract to upgrade the Chivas Brothers’ Palletisation and Automatic Despatch (PAD) facility in Dumbarton. The project, for one of Scotland’s largest bottling plants with storage for over 10,800 palletised loads, is expected to achieve a 50% increase in output.
Stephen Trainor, Project Manager for Chivas, says it was important that the company chosen for the contract had the experience to deliver a reliable and robust system. Also important was ExMac’s ability to take responsibility from design to commissioning, and especially to install new systems whilst the previous systems continued operating.
Phase 1 and 2 involved a major refurbishment of two automatic storage and retrieval systems and associated pallet conveyors, as well as new conveyor systems to improve the flow of palletised product into the warehouse. ExMac also totally refurbished eight narrow-aisle stacker cranes.
Phase 3 included eight new production line conveying systems to transport different-sized cartons from the bottling plant into a new palletising plant where they are automatically sorted into pallet profiles. Over 1,000m of belt-driven carton conveyor were installed; and every 600mm section up to the palletising area features a soft-start system that prevents bottles breaking, while achieving the fastest possible cycle speed. Despite installing new equipment while the old was still operating, ExMac’s new Phase 3 system was meeting Chivas’ production needs one month ahead of schedule.
The new high-level out-feed conveyor system installed for Phase 4 transfers cases from the automated stores through two barcode labellers and onto conveyor lines that remove in-house pallets and replace them with either a slip sheet or one of five types of shipping pallet. Loads are then transferred on a high speed (180m per minute) shuttle car to one of thirteen accumulation lanes, at the end of which is a turntable that automatically orientates the pallets to maximise lorry loads.
ExMac also supplied two automated guided vehicle (AGV) systems. A 3-AGV system is used to transfer cases from the Leven Bottling Hall, either into the despatch system or the warehouse; and a single AGV system conveys loads to the five de-stackers.
In addition, whilst working on the major Dumbarton refurbishment, ExMac also installed a pallet exchange unit and associated conveyors at Chivas Brothers’ Paisley plant!