News Archive 2008

Unilever orders transport system
Unilever’s 'Blue Band' plant in Rotterdam will be equipped with a new transport system for the outbound of transport of full pallets of margarine to the distribution zone and the supply of empty pallets from the pallet buffer to production. To realize this total project Unilever is teaming up with Egemin Automation because of some really convincing arguments.

Expertise of 3 core activities

Unilever trusted Egemin Automation with the assignment of the retrofit project because of the total solution they presented. Both for the design, the actual system, the installation, the controls and the after-sales services Unilever is working with one sole partner. For Egemin Automation this project is once again a very nice example of how its three main activities, consulting, project realisation, lifecycle services, can be linked together forming a one-stop-shop for its customers. Also the preparatory simulation of the product flows including capacity analysis was taken up in the project.

Stable link between production and distribution

The existing AGV system at Unilever Rotterdam is running out-of-date and will be replaced with a new system consisting of two transfer cars riding on rails. These shuttle cars transport full pallets of margarine from the various palletizers (robotic cells) to the outfeed lane and bring the empty pallets from the pallet buffer back to the palletizers. The transfer cars have a double design providing space for two full pallets one at the top while two empty pallets can be stored at the bottom. When the transfer car is retrieving a full pallet at the robot cells, it can also deliver a new empty pallet right away. At the other side the opposite action is being performed: the empty pallets are picked from the bottom supply conveyor while full pallets are being delivered to the top outfeed conveyor.

Falling loads

The pallets stored with Blue Band margarine products tend to have a rather unstable stacking pattern at Unilever. With the current AGV system this frequently leads to falling loads leading to contamination, damage and waste of time. One of Unilever’s main objectives for the implementation of the new system was increased reliability for the outfeed of pallets. The stability of the system Egemin Automation proposed was a second important asset. The loads are kept stable by the pneumatic clamps holding the load and he use of two PLS systems (Proximity Laser Scanners) installed on each transfer car. The direct surroundings of the transfer cars are continuously scanned for foreign objects. As soon as an obstacle like a cardboard box is being detected the transfer cars are slowed down and stopped.

Short-term revamp

The replacement of the transport installation at Unilever needs to be performed in a very short time frame of nine days (including 1 working week and two weekends). As a genuine retrofit expert Egemin Automation has displayed a lot of expertise in revamp projects with a tight time schedule including weekend work. This also contributed to Unilever's decision in favour of Egemin Automation.

Future replacement

At the moment Unilever is also moving its production of peanut butter from Delft to Rotterdam. In the near future Egemin Automation’s system responsible for transporting the margarine products will also provide a link between the production and distribution of Unilever’s peanut butter products.

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