Moving beef is one of the things Cargill has always done best. With headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, the name is largely synonymous with beef production. In fact, Cargill is the second-largest processor of beef in North America. Cargill’s Friona, Texas facility processes more than one thousand head of cattle per day but was seeking ways to increase the speed and efficiency of their order processing. Cargill wanted to be able to sort, store, dispatch and track shipments more effectively and in real-time.
Even working 24/7, Cargill was having difficulty filling orders. They also wanted to increase their SKU complexity, which meant being able to sort and track meat by weight, grade, cut, and age. Their current distribution center had low accuracy, poor delivery, and no automation. In addition, large numbers of product had damage or waste.
Because fresh beef is a short turnaround item, it’s necessary to have optimal time-based performance, ability to match products to orders, and ability to manage inventory and shipping. Slow or poor order fulfillment means wasted money and/or products.
However, there’s more; in the case of workers, the risk of injury and demanding conditions resulted in a lack of skilled labor and increasing employee turnover.
viastore systems worked under Retrotech as the general contractor and added 20 S/R machines with two single deep lateral load-handling devices. The system itself measured 50 feet in height and 110 feet in length and covered 78,400 storage locations for cartons with a maximum capacity of 115 pounds each.
Ultimately, by building out a proper cold storage processing facility, Cargill was able to maintain precise real-time tracking for orders and was able to maintain precise inventory tracking. Upon completion of the solution, Cargill’s system works in this way:
- Beef is packed in the processing center
- It’s conveyed through a 600 foot skyway bridge to a new 50,000 square foot distribution center
- The entire distribution center is 28° F
- Cases are sorted into lanes in the AS/RS provided by viastore
- The 20 cranes in 20 aisles handle inbound and outbound cases, utilizing 78,000 storage locations
- Some cases are palletized while others are directly floor loaded onto trucks
- Cases are simultaneously stored and picked for orders
The manual warehouse was transformed into a cost efficient automated facility. Results include:
- Labor was reduced by 2/3 and order accuracy improved above 99%
- Throughput capacity was doubled and there was a significant reduction in cost per case handled
- Fuel costs were reduced 50 percent due to quicker truck loading
- Improvement in employee safety and a large decrease in staff turnover
- While old work was completed 24/7, it now is achieved using two alternate shifts, 5 and a half days per week
- All products are visible and there is quick access to any box, anytime (100 percent traceability)
Not only that, but the distribution center continues to achieve their peak operating goals; they receive more than 40 boxes per minute from production and ship 40 boxes per minute. Since this installation viastore has implemented a similar solution at the Cargill facility in Schuyler, NE, furthering the strength of this partnership.
This post provided by viastore, a leading global supplier of integrated material handling systems for distributors and manufacturers.