2021-08-11

Intralogistics in the Beverage Industry: Powerful Forklifts and Automated Warehouse Systems

When temperatures soar in the summer, the demands on the beverage industry also increase—you can’t beat a mineral water fresh from the source after a workout, a delicious soda by the pool, or an ice-cold beer at a sunny barbecue. The forklifts from the KION brands Linde Material Handling, STILL, and Baoli have long been helping to meet these needs. Around the globe, they are adeptly handling extremely heavy pallets of bottle crates as well as delicate empty containers. However, automated guided vehicles (AGV) and fully automated warehouse logistics systems from the KION subsidiary Dematic are also gaining increasing ground in this sector. Together, the KION brands are keeping the material flow for thousands of millions of liters moving—and they are helping to ensure reliable supply and sustainable refreshment with the full spectrum of their intralogistics solution expertise.

Loads that are both heavy and delicate, a high turnover, and a fast pace during the loading and unloading of trucks, as well as seasonal fluctuations and specific requirements in terms of hygiene, temperature, and sustainability— these are just some of the typical requirements in the beverage industry that make the intralogistics processes so challenging. The KION Group brands have the right solution for each of these challenges, in every industry segment, anywhere in the world.

Mineral Water: Fast and Clean from the Source to the Customer

Our journey through the world of beverages begins in the Spanish region of Valencia. Among the vineyards, a total of 600,000 pallets a year of Agua Mineral San Benedetto, one of the leading manufacturers of mineral water and soft drinks in Spain and Italy, are loaded onto trucks and delivered. A fleet of around 40 forklift trucks from the KION subsidiary Linde Material Handling are standing by to help with this task, and there are even a couple more in the summer. So when temperatures rise and the beverage business is booming, the fleet is quickly joined by eight additional forklifts courtesy of Linde Rental Services to help them manage the peaks in demand.

Keeping a cool head – even during summer peaks

While internal combustion forklift trucks were mainly used in the sector for many years, the more sustainable electric forklift trucks are now gaining ground and are impressing with their respectable performance. The X20 - X35 from Linde Material Handling that was launched in June recently demonstrated this at Ensinger Mineral-Heilquellen GmbH in the Ensingen Nature Park near Stuttgart, Germany. Every week, 3.8 million liters of drinks leave the loading area here. During the process of loading and unloading the trucks with empty and full containers, the electric forklift impressed with its high turnover performance in completely emission-free operation. “Powerful counterbalanced forklift trucks are crucial for us,” explains Ensinger’s Managing Director, Frank Lehmann. “The fact that the new Linde X35 electric forklift gives us the outstanding performance of an IC truck but with zero emissions makes us even happier.”

Linde X 35 at Ensinger

On the other side of the world in the Chinese province of Zhejiang, forklifts from Linde MH China are playing an important role for Nongfu Spring, the leading supplier of mineral water in the country. The simple water bottles with their green, white, and red label and red plastic lid can be bought across China—from Shanghai’s bars to remote mountain villages in the Tibetan highlands. Nongfu Spring relies on a vast fleet of lithium-ion forklift trucks from Linde Material Handling to get the bottles ready for transportation to the most far-flung corners of the country immediately after they have been filled from Qiandao Lake in Zhejiang.

Increasingly, it is not just fleets of forklifts but also complete automated solutions that are helping to get mineral water from its source to the customer. The KION subsidiary Dematic recently built an extensive, five-aisle high rack warehouse with 20,000 storage spaces for Vöslauer Mineralwasser at the company’s headquarters in the Austrian spa town of Bad Vöslau. This project involves fully automating the intralogistics processes with storage and retrieval systems and conveyor lines including a software solution for the new high rack warehouse. Once this facility is completed in the first quarter of 2022, this should make it possible to process up to 250 pallets an hour.

Juices and Sodas: Advanced Automation from the Juice Press to the Satellite Warehouse

Returning to Germany, the fruit juice producer Güldenkron in the German village of Nistertal is dedicated to producing delicious juices, juice drinks, smoothies, and much more. This long-established company relies on the expertise of the KION brand STILL for the perfect material flow. In 2017, the intralogistics experts took on the complete material flow analysis, planning, and implementation of all the logistics systems and the equipping of the logistics center. Four automated reach trucks and three automated guided vehicles (AGV) from STILL move the pallets across the warehouse from the filling area to the dispatch department. Together with the warehouse management system, these trucks compile complete delivery rounds fully autonomously, and load the fleet of trucks in the exact order in which the goods are to be delivered.

Asahi DC achieves 250% productivity boost

In the Australian city of Brisbane, the drinks wholesaler Asahi sells the world-famous Schweppes “Indian Tonic Water” and many other drinks. In 2020, Dematic implemented an impressive satellite warehouse there to consolidate the company’s previous smaller warehouses. Storage and retrieval systems collect and deposit around 1.6 million beverage crates over 16 levels in the numerous storage channels of the satellite warehouse. In each channel, there is space for up to 22 pallets, which are transported to the storage and retrieval systems by automated shuttles if required and then go from there to the dispatch department. The fully automated system has substantially improved Asahi’s utilization of space and its footprint, resulting in a performance increase of 250 percent.

Beer: High-Performance Intralogistics for Expert Brewing

Around 900 kilometers further south on the east coast of Australia, Dematic implemented a fleet of AGVs at the Lions Beer brewery in Lidcombe in early 2021. The trucks are in use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are responsible for transporting the specialty beers to the warehouse or directly to the dispatch department, which they do extremely efficiently and fully autonomously, moving up to two million liters of beer a day.

Dematic AGVs at Lion Beer

However, this is just a fraction of the vast quantities of this popular beverage that are transported by various industrial trucks from the KION brands around the world day in and day out—whether this is with Linde Material Handling’s lithium-ion forklifts at Früh Kölsch and Veltins in Germany, with the electric forklift trucks from STILL at Krombacher or at Heineken in the United Kingdom, or with the counterbalanced forklift trucks that are also powered electronically from the KION subsidiary brand Baoli at Carlsberg in China and at numerous smaller breweries in many other countries.

Whatever the drink, the country, or the challenge, the powerful forklift trucks and high-performance automated systems from the KION Group brands are being used everywhere to help ensure smooth and flowing processes using sustainable technology.

"We don't sell products, we sell solutions"

Rob Smith to succeed Gordon Riske as Chief Executive Officer of KION GROUP AG