Getting on top of logistics in only six months

Brought to you by SSI Schaefer

SSI Schaefer has successfully extended and modernised the intralogistics system of international dairy company FrieslandCampina, whilst the business was still in operation. This project has resulted in optimised processes, increased storage capacity and considerable cost savings. The fully automatic logistics warehouse is connected to the existing system and includes, among other things, the extended high-bay warehouse (HBW) and a custom-fit conveying system. The material flows are controlled by WAMAS, the SSI Schaefer logistics software.

“Due to specific challenges, the project went far beyond the requirements of a classic retrofit project,” summarised Marc De Vlieger, SSI Schaefer project manager. The intralogistics requirements in the dairy sector are particularly demanding – especially when it comes to the best-before date, hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP), hygiene standards and the traceability required by many customers. Due to this, warehouse solutions for dairy organisations require processes with high availability, fastest turnover and high performance rates. “All in all, we extended the existing high-bay warehouse for FrieslandCampina, connected it to the conveying system, integrated it with IT and upgraded the existing systems in the Aalter logistics center to cutting edge technology,” he explained.


For being able to cope with the increased production output, SSI Schaefer installed a further conveying system between the production area and the extended high-bay warehouse.

Aalter, Belgium, is one of FrieslandCampina’s important production sites. From there, markets in Benelux, France, Great Britain and Germany are each supplied with UHT milk products, condensed milk and chocolate milk. 450 different stock lists, products and sales units are stored within the Belgian distribution center. In 2005, SSI Schaefer built an automated warehouse at the FrieslandCampina construction site as general contractor for intralogistics. Conception, capacities, equipment and technological standard were planned in detail and designed for the foreseeable growth of the dairy company in the ten years to follow.

The material flow concept, the eleven-aisle high-bay warehouse with almost 25,000 storage locations and the connected picking area, the pallet conveying system, an electric monorail system for pallet retrieval on gravity roller conveyors and the pallet test station proved their efficiency and process stability over the forecasting horizon — all coordinated by the SSI Schaefer logistics software WAMAS.

Optimising processes and saving costs

André Van der Meulen, warehouse manager and project manager at FrieslandCampina, stated: “Our target was perfectly achieved during project implementation: efficiency and service were considerably increased with an availability of 98%.”

New production and packing lines as well as continuously growing demand required FrieslandCampina to increase their storage and performance capacities. Today, around 500,000 pallets with durable dairy products leave the production and distribution centre every year.

With this in mind, FrieslandCampina commissioned SSI Schaefer with the extension of the existing system by more than 12,000 pallet locations, which equates to a capacity increase of about 50%.

“The system extension that was already anticipated by SSI Schaefer in the 2005 layout enables us to save a considerable amount of costs and provides sustainable benefits for our service and logistics,” explained André Van der Meulen, warehouse manager and project manager at FrieslandCampina.

In parallel to the required extension, SSI Schaefer installed new conveyor connections to the automatic layer palletising system which is handled by robots. To be able to cope with the increased production output, the intralogistics specialist installed a conveying system in parallel to the existing conveying system between production and the extended HBW.

“The redundant conveying section ensures timely and smooth relief of production lines, increases performance and ensures continuous availability of the system,” clarified De Vlieger. Finally, all modifications in the programming of the logistics software WAMAS, the material flow system and the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) of the automation components were installed.

First-rate project implementation

FrieslandCampina also opted for the SSI Resident Maintenance concept from the Customer Service & Support (CSS) division of SSI Schaefer. This service includes maintenance work, repairs and ensures maximum system availability. A team of five SSI Schaefer employees take care of the system around the clock with at least one of them always on site. Furthermore, the SSI Schaefer helpdesk is available for consultation and support on further technical questions.

“Reliable project organisation and precise adherence to schedule along with stability of system components and processes were crucial in order assignment for this complex modernisation project,” said FrieslandCampina warehouse manager André Van der Meulen. “After the positive experience with the existing system, SSI Schaefer also implemented the extension project competently and cooperatively — and without affecting operation. Our target was perfectly achieved during project implementation: efficiency and service were considerably increased with an availability of 98%. Thus, FrieslandCampina’s production and distribution centre in Aalter is prepared for further growth as well as taking over additional and more extensive orders.”

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