USA, Olathe. US-based food giant Smithfield Foods opened its first fully-automated distribution centre in Kansas. Logistics solution provider Lineage Logistics designed and built the facility with over 62,000 pallet positions.
Food company Smithfield Foods, one of the world’s largest pork producers and processors, announced the opening of its automated, next-generation distribution centre in Olathe, Kansas.
In collaboration with logistics solutions provider Lineage Logistics, the facility was built to enhance Smithfield’s complex distribution network by providing new levels of operational efficiency and reliability via automation.
Eighteen automated cranes that move inventory into, out of and within the facility are at the facility’s core, while it also features one of the largest temperature-controlled layer-picking systems in the world.
Layer-pickers disassemble and reassemble pallets of goods, a process previously performed manually. As a result, the robotics and software fully automate over 97% of the product movement through the facility.
Lineage sponsored academic research in mathematics to determine how to schedule and dispatch components in the facility, increasing throughput capability. Computer vision systems automatically identify the contents of each pallet, decreasing the building footprint. Lineage’s technology teams refined the robotic layout in simulation, stress-testing it against high growth, food holidays and even March 2020 panic-buying.
The facility also features Lineage’s patented blast cell technology that reduces freeze time and energy use by approximately one-half relative to traditional blast cells. “We are thrilled to announce the opening of the state-of-the-art facility that Lineage designed and built for Smithfield in Olathe,” said Greg Lehmkuhl, President and CEO of Lineage.
“As a major food company feeding a growing global population sustainably, we’re continually working to implement enhancements across our value chain, including our distribution network, to support our customers and reduce our environmental footprint,” said Shane Smith, President and CEO of Smithfield.
In addition to the software inside the building, the facility features Lineage Link, a customer experience platform that provides Smithfield unprecedented access, visibility and control of their product. With the ability to see inventory levels and receive timely alerts, Smithfield can place the necessary orders and schedule the shipments to ensure their product reaches consumers when it is needed.
This platform interacts with the operating software to ensure the tasks are prioritised for the requisite appointments. With this software investment, Lineage aims to create a network in which food suppliers, carriers and distributors maintain a level of access and control that should ultimately build a stronger, more robust food system.
Source: Smithfield Foods