January 28, 2021 By Bakers Journal
Cimcorp, a manufacturer and integrator of turnkey robotic order fulfillment and tire-handling solutions, announces it has helped Midwest convenience store chain Kwik Trip automate product handling and order fulfillment in its La Crosse, Wisconsin baking facility’s warehouse.
Within the 87,000-square-foot warehouse, Cimcorp designed a space-saving, high-density layout and custom automated solution centered around its MultiPick robotic order picking system. The solution is able to rapidly manage 80,000 trays of fast-moving bakery products and process orders for 53,000 outbound trays to over 700 Kwik Trip stores each day.
Eric Fonstad, Facility Director – Bread/Bun Plant, Kwik Trip, said in a press release, “The warehouse is one of the most critical points in the La Crosse facility’s end-to-end process, as the bread and buns that come in from production and packaging are held for no more than 48 hours before being sent to our stores. From receiving to storage, through picking and dispatch—these products have to flow seamlessly and quickly to guarantee their maximum freshness for our customers. Cimcorp’s automation is central to enabling this efficient product movement and is therefore pivotal to our bakery business. Cimcorp worked closely with us to develop an ideal solution that would make optimal use of our warehouse space and meet our present and future business needs.”
The warehouse is part of a 200,000-square-foot baking facility opened by Kwik Trip in the fall of 2018 in response to growing demand for its self-produced baked goods—namely bread and buns. With the goal of producing and distributing four times the volume of output of its previous baking facility, Kwik Trip wanted to automate as much of its operations as possible. Today, the state-of-the art facility features various automated systems that handle the majority of production, packaging, warehousing and outbound distribution in a well-orchestrated, fully integrated fashion.
Notably, when orders come in from Kwik Trip’s stores, the data is transferred to Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System (WCS), which then controls and directs the MultiPick to pick the orders based on store and route. The MultiPick operates from overhead and retrieves the required trays of products from stacks up to 20 high across the warehouse floor. Computer control ensures that the orders are picked with 100-percent accuracy and that Kwik Trip follows a first-in-first-out (FIFO) inventory management model. By automating, Kwik Trip has also eliminated the ergonomic risks of manual handling—enhancing workplace safety for all warehouse employees—and improved its surge capacity.
Derek Rickard, Director of Sales, Cimcorp, said in the same release, “Surges are a common challenge in bakery distribution—where warehouse managers and employees must keep products efficiently moving out the door amid spikes in order volume. These are often seen seasonally but can also occur due to other external market factors. For instance, at the onset of COVID-19, Kwik Trip saw demand nearly triple in a single week. But thanks to the rapid handling and adaptability of our MultiPick system, the La Crosse facility was able to maintain the same product flow and level of order accuracy as its normal daily operation. From the beginning, it was important that our solution offer such flexibility, as well as scalability, to meet Kwik Trip’s warehousing needs as the company sets its sights on continued growth ahead.”
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