Full automation of major warehouse
Snack Brands Australia partnered with WalkerScott to integrate the components for their Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) project.
Snack Brands Australia is a major Australian manufacturing company that incorporates CC’s, Cheezels, Chickadees, French Fries, Jumpy’s, Kettle, Natural Chip Company, Samboy and Thins Chips, producing millions of packets of chips every week. As part of a continual focus on improving its supply chain, Snack Brands wanted to increase its level of warehouse automation by implementing AGVs to replace most existing forklift activity in its largest warehouse.
Snack Brands knew this was a daunting and complex project, with multiple stakeholders and systems involved, but several years of project and business case evaluations showed it to be the best way forward. The company engaged WalkerScott to lead the systems integration workstream on the project, and we took on the challenge.
A key condition of the project was to integrate the existing warehouse management system, Paperless Warehousing, with the AGV system without making any changes to integration between Paperless and their upstream ERP, Microsoft Dynamics AX. As well, the team was tasked with integrating two Roll On Roll Off (RoRo) conveyors (used to efficiently transport pallets from the factory to warehouse) into the final solution.
Leading the systems integration workstream
WalkerScott were engaged to lead the systems integration workstream, using our experience and expertise to ensure the smooth integration of existing and new technologies.
We were involved throughout the AVG project, from concept and business case preparation, operational and systems integration design, to commissioning and rollout. While being fully responsible for the delivery of the systems integration workstream, our role was also multi-faceted as Jono Walker, a WalkerScott Director, was part of the overall project Steering Committee.
We worked closely with all stakeholders throughout the project, including Snack Brands Operations and IT, Linfox Warehouse Operations (3PL), Paperless Warehousing, NDC Automation, ICA Australia and Sage Automation, and guided the multiple stakeholders through the entire integration lifecycle over the course of a year. This involved:
- Running business requirements workshops with Snack Brands’ internal stakeholders and external vendors.
- Full documentation of integration between systems, including Microsoft Dynamics AX, Paperless Warehouse Management System, AGV control system, SICK barcode scanners, Allen Bradley
- PLCs and ICA RoRo conveyors.
- Upgrade of Paperless Warehouse Management system to support SOAP Web Services.
- Development and implementation of several RESTful web services to expose business logic functionality in existing systems.
- Introduction of additional processes and transactions such as Advanced Shipment Notifications.
- Designing test and training plans.
- Onsite commissioning and operational support.
- Hourly productivity reporting.
Full automation success
This ambitious project resulted in a very rewarding outcome when the vision of fully automating all warehouse movements, from receipting to order picking, was successfully realised.
With the help of WalkerScott, Snack Brands have been able to automate their supply chain from factory to warehouse. With full automation in operation, the first time a pallet is physically handled outside the system is when a forklift driver loads the pallet onto the truck to be delivered to the customer. This level of automation has resulted in a reduction in warehousing costs, a clear shift from variable to known fixed costs, and significant improvement in afternoon and night shift productivity.
WalkerScott worked successfully with Snack Brands’ internal stakeholders and external vendors to deliver on this complex project. The company now enjoys the benefits of its fully coordinated and integrated systems, and the confidence of knowing they work exactly as they should.