Briefing: Breakthru Beverage Illinois invests for long-term growth

A family business, built on values and commitment to partnership, Wirtz Beverage Illinois, now known as Breakthru Beverage Illinois, was founded in 1945 by Arthur Wirtz.  As one of the first multi-state distributors, Breakthru Beverage operates in Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa with combined revenues of $1.8 billion annually and 2,500 employees.

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Case Study: Breakthru Beverage Illinois invests for long-term growth
“Westfalia was the most efficient and robust solution out of the companies in the market.” Richard (Rocky) Ruane, Regional Director of Warehouse Operations

Challenge: Need a solution to meet customer demands and foster long-term growth

Like many companies in the beverage industry, Breakthru Beverage Illinois was faced with the challenge of expansion to support increased demand. “The challenge we faced was the fact that we were working out of three warehouses. This was a totally inefficient operations but we made it work,” said Richard (Rocky) Ruane, Director of Warehouse Operations.

Ruane continued, “With the growth of our business we started to see that we could be limited in our ability to service our customers during our high peak times. “We needed a warehouse which would give us the efficiencies that we needed to match our go to market strategies as we continue to grow.”

Breakthru Beverage decided to build a new facility in Cicero, IL, understanding that they needed to invest for long-term growth. This reinvestment included site re-development of the former Sportsman’s Park. The 35 acre site lot was chosen to fit the 604,907 sq. ft. building.  Standing tall at 42 feet, the new distribution center included 555,449 sq. ft. of warehouse, 106,409 sq. ft. of office space and 25,000 sq. ft. of cooler.

Solution: AS/RS and WMS for a spirits distribution center

Today’s modern facilities are required to process increasingly complex tasks and provide reliability and flexibility for future needs.  Westfalia’s AS/RS provides Breakthru Beverage with the ability to adapt to changing market conditions while enabling future growth of the business.

“Westfalia was the most efficient and robust solution out of the companies in the market,” said Ruane.

Specializing in high density storage systems, Westfalia’s AS/RS provides Breakthru Beverage with the ability to store up to 10 pallets deep while maintaining a balance of inventory and movements across the system. The 42 foot tall building is equipped with five high storage racks with three tandem Storage and Retrievel Machines (S/RM). Using the Satellite® system, storing and retrieving loads in Breakthru Beverage’s high density configuration significantly increases storage capacity and reduces the footprint of the system. The Satellite® system also provides triple support so the load weight is distributed evenly and more reliably in the rack.

“This design also led to us being more cost and labor efficient,” added Ruane. ”Our receiving docks were set up in front of the AS/RS which gave us the efficiency of not having to drive throughout the warehouse to put away all of our inbound product. We cut our receiving time of our primary product in half.”

Westfalia’s Savanna.NET® Warehouse Management System is the power behind the AS/RS.  Savanna.NET® provides control of all product flows and maximum system flexibility which allowed Westfalia to customize the functionality specific to Breakthru Beverage.

System Features:

  • Capacity:

    • 5' high storage in 42' clear traditional building
    • Top 780 SKU's are stored and picked
    • 736 dedicated pick/64 cluster pick
    • 22,470 pallet positions/1,300,000 C's capacity
    • 200 pallet moves per hour
    • 1.3 million cases stored in a 110K sq. ft. system
  • Functionality:

    • 3 tandem cranes 
    • 8 integrated pick to belt modules
    • Savanna.NET WMS

System Benefits:

  • Bring labor efficiencies while  maximizing space utilization
  • Maximizes order picking productivity  & accuracy rates
  • Maximizes throughput
  • Maximizes efficiency and productivity of the overall material handling system
  • Maximizes space utilization while  improving system performance
  • Minimizes product damage
  • Maximizes truck loading productivity and efficiency

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Our Mission: To deliver unparalleled warehousing solutions by earning the trust of our customers, understanding their business needs and honoring the commitments we make.