“The RTS team has been instrumental in driving efficiencies within our sites around Australia. We look forward to continuing our engagement with RTS into the future”
Ian Weppner, Scoresby site manager, Amcor Fibre Packaging
Amcor is one of the largest packaging companies in the world, with manufacturing sites in 39 countries around the world. Amcor has approximately 27,000 employees, operates 224 plants and in 2005 produced over $11 billion in annual sales.
In Australasia, Amcor offers a wide range of packaging and packaging-related services, including corrugated boxes, cartons, aluminum and steel cans, flexible plastic packaging, PET plastic bottles and jars, closures and multi-wall sacks.
Amcor operates fibre packaging centres around Australia. In their Scoresby site, which primarily produces corrugated cardboard, they were experiencing problems with the warehouse consistently overflowing, caused by a 35% increase in production over four years to 127,000,000m2. Pallet locations and job numbers were being recorded manually which was time consuming and at times inaccurate. Additionally, it was difficult to locate pallets quickly when staging the despatch load, whereby deliveries at times had to be split, which lead to great frustration for customers.
Management considered expanding the warehouse to solve this problem, and at the same time Steve Youl, the Victorian Operations Manager and his technical team had devised an alternative tracking solution to address the issues. The team approached four leading radio frequency (RF) vendors in Australia to determine who could deliver on their vision and determine if it was a viable alternative to building a warehouse.
RTS Solution for Amcor
Stage 1 – 1999
In 1999, RTS proposed a pilot for Amcor Fibre Packaging to use RTS RF terminals with unattended barcode scanning units on their forklifts in the Scoresby plant. It was intended that the solution would streamline the collection process of pallets from the pallet strapping line. The pilot was successful and a range of RTS products were selected as the most suitable hardware.
Amcor expanded the scope to include RFID location tracking. The decision to select RTS products would now further pay off, as the RTS products were able to easily integrate with a range of ancillary devices including RFID technology for the despatch warehouse. This enabled accurate identification of the warehouse block stack loading bays which had previously been problematic using barcodes for identification. RTS products were also compatible with Amcor’s unit load tracking (ULT) software provided by Kiwiplan.
Stage 2 – 2000
After several months of successful operations, Amcor identified that in their production areas, they had problems with duplicate labeling of the pallets which lead to pallets being misplaced in the warehouse essentially lost.
To address this problem, a custom RTS terminal was manufactured to:
- monitor duplicated barcodes that came down the production line and stop the conveyor when a duplicate was identified;
- count the number of pallets entering the warehouse; and
- auto receipt the pallets from manufacturing to Kiwiplan’s ULT warehouse software.
In solving this problem, truck scheduling became so accurate that a truck could be waiting for the final pallet as it came down the production line and despatched shortly after. The effect of this was a significant reduction in stock onhand awaiting despatch in the warehouse and one of the most significant milestones for the project. At times, the warehouse saw a 50 – 70% improvement on warehouse space utilisation as the loads were effectively cross docked from manufacturing to despatch.
Stage 3 – 2002
After the success in Scoresby, Amcor decided to roll out the solution around Australia to all 11 Amcor fibre packaging despatch warehouses. Additionally, all 11 inwards goods paper roll stock warehouses (including Scoresby) also implemented a similar solution which utilized Kiwiplan’s roll stock system (RSS).
RTS then integrated to SAP, their Australia wide ERP system and implemented Leap/Radius secure authentication for their CISCO wireless LAN, to ensure a highly secure wireless network.
After installing the custom barcode tracking solution using radio frequency terminals, warehouses around Australia have been able to easily locate stock. The location of pallets is accurately recorded and each forklift can be instructed via a screen on the forklift, to retrieve goods for loading. The system allows for accurate stocktaking with handheld units. Customers consistently receive orders on time, truck scheduling has also been greatly improved and has been a significant improvement in warehouse space utilisation.
Ambient RTS terminals, RTS Scanner, Datalogic DS6300, GEMPLUS RFID, CISCO LAN