The Elettric 80 LGVs carry out the duties of a normal forklift but run without a driver.
Danish brewery Carlsberg has taken delivery of new automated forklifts made by Italian company Elettric 80 at its warehouse in Falkenberg, Sweden.
The laser guided vehicles (LGVs) carry out the duties of a normal forklift but run without a driver or operator. They navigate the warehouse with the help of laser scanners, using reflex points to orient themselves.
Elettric 80 installed the first two LGVs at Falkenberg in 2004. The single pallet forklifts were used to supply empty pallets in the production area. The latest delivery of 22 LGVs completely automates the warehouse process.
The warehouse consists of about 20,000 pallets: 11,500 in block storage and 8,500 in gravity racks. The system installation for the new LGVs was made during full production in the brewery, with the warehouse automated in stages, gradually taking over new areas from manual handling.
Elettric 80 spokeswoman Linda Branell says the installation took place with minimum disturbances to production due to "careful planning, consideration and open communication between the parties".
The whole storage process is automated by the LGVs, from pick-up at the end of the production lines to the gravity racks and floor storage of the warehouse. Pallets are also retrieved from the warehouse and delivered at the picking area, where prepared pallets are collected further on, or directly to the shipping area.
Kristoffer Andersson, Carlsberg's warehouse manager, says the system capacity fulfils all the company's expectations. "Through the installation of Elettric 80's LGV system, we have obtained more stable operation and the handling of pallets from production to warehouse is now considerably more cost effective. [Also] the system is user-friendly."
The LGVs are electrically powered. To compensate for their quiet nature, they emit a signal to notify people in their immediate surroundings.
Battery exchange is also completely automatic. When the battery is running low, the LGV goes to the charging station, where the system master indicates which slot to approach to leave the discharged battery, and from which to retrieve a new, fully charged one. The LGV has a smaller battery which provides the power necessary to move between the slots without the main battery.
The vehicles can lift pallets of more than 1,000 kg (2,205lbs) up to five metres (16.4 feet). They also handle the regular supply of empty pallets and other consumables from an infeed conveyor system, linking a manually handled outdoor storage area to the automated warehouse, and performs from single racks to the production lines.
Established in 1980 in Viano, Italy, Elettric 80 is a global provider of end-of-line automation solutions. It employs 320 people, has an annual turnover of about EUR75 million (USD103.2 million) and has subsidiaries in the US, the UK, Sweden, Australia and Poland.