December 10 2013

Westfalia AS/RS Wirtz Beverage

By: Staci Cretu, M.S.
Marketing and Communications Manager

According to today's Material Handling & Logistics (MH&L) report, "throughout 2013, MH&L presented accounts of how companies faced every supply chain manager's biggest challenges. Wasted resources, labor inefficiency and unsafe handling environments were common themes, and MH&L's Editorial Advisory Board took on the challenge of selecting the stories they felt best embodied the spirit of innovation in their solutions." Westfalia Technologies Inc. along with W&H Systems and Wirtz Beverage Illinois was recently named by Material Handling and Logistics as one of the Innovation Award winners. Westfalia and W&H Systems were honored with this award for the partnership formed with Wirtz Beverage Illinois.

Wirtz Beverage Group is a leading national distributor of the world’s top luxury and premium wine, spirits and beer brands. Combining three warehouses into one 555,500-square-foot distribution center, Wirtz Beverage Illinois, can now process 85,000 cases in 10 hours with room to expand to store more than 2.2 million cases using Westfalia’s AS/RS. The automated process the AS/RS provides has also provided Wirtz with significant labor savings.

According to the case study featured in the October issue of MH&L, "The new building now incorporates a vertical automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) that stores pallets five high for a total of 1.3 million cases with the ability to expand up to 3 million cases. To streamline the receiving and putaway processes, the AS/RS was erected close to the receiving dock. It was also designed to handle both storage and replenishment duties to get more out of the system. Along with putting pallets away into storage, pallets are placed on flow lanes in each pick face.

Although the new AS/RS was a sizeable investment, the labor freed up by automating the replenishment activities was a key factor in delivering an ROI. The overall building was 150,000 sq. ft. smaller than it would have been with a conventional system and storage.

There is also significant labor savings for inventory put-away and pick module replenishment, as well as a reduction in breakage due to less product impact and operator error."

Candidates for MH&L's Innovation Award were selected from among case studies submitted to MH&L during the course of a year. The judges use a point system to quantify their quality assessments and select winners in each of the following categories Make, Store, Move and Compete.

The MH&L judges had the following responses regarding Westfalia, W&H Systems and Wirtz:

"Bold. Quite an undertaking, clearly with top-level support."John Hill

"A good job of understanding requirements and applying the correct material handing solution to those requirements. Good economical solution while integrating software to ensure performance excellence."James Tompkins

"Impressive implementation of warehouse technology, handling twice the volume that Wirtz previously enjoyed."Joe Andraski

"Excellent combination and integration of multiple technologies to facilitate one aligned, efficient overall system."Tan Miller

" The successful integration of the various material handling systems with four different software systems was impressive. In the end, they met or exceeded their expectations. "Al Will

"Wirtz Beverage's consolidation was a good response to the need to grow. They realized the advantage of having well-executed, high-technology systems in one facility rather than average systems across multiple facilities. This decision took foresight and guts to make."Alex Scott

"Great employment of technology. A private company looking at the long-run for ROI."Ron Giuntini

Watch Wirtz in Action!