Simulating reality at Premier Foods

Posted: 27-Apr-2012

Premier_Foods logoPremier Foods is the UK’s largest food producer with a £2.6 billion turnover, over 65 UK sites and circa 18,000 employees. Brands include OXO, Batchelors, Homepride and Hovis, Sharwoods, Bisto and Mr Kipling.

Their main storage location is situated in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire which receives product from 5 factories and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a current capacity of 65,000 in rack and bulk stack locations.

Following recent acquisitions Premier Foods undertook a major upgrade to their Lynn Road Warehouse operation to include 40,000 sq metres of new warehouse space to accommodate increased demand.  The extra capacity provides for racked pallet storage and further inbound marshalling space but also the increased demand put pressure on outbound activities particularly case picking and marshalling. As part of the upgrade Premier Foods commissioned a simulation study of the warehouse operation that allowed Management and the Operations Team to change parameters, such as changes in volume, task allocations, restricting MHE truck availability, picking ahead and the effect of conveyor system failure, to assess their impacts.

After a thorough analysis of the simulation products available on the market, Premier Foods partnered with Autologic Systems Ltd, the specialist provider of materials handling software.

The simulation was built using AutoMod 3D, advanced 3D simulation software for materials handling systems, of which AutoLogic is the sole UK and Ireland distributor.

The AutoMod simulation software creates highly accurate and detailed models for warehouses, distribution centres, airport baggage systems and manufacturing facilities. These models can be used for experimentation and to evaluate ‘what-if’ scenarios prior to any capital expenditure or disruption of existing operations.

Paul Moody, Logistics Solutions Manager at Premier Foods comments: “AutoMod is a very powerful tool. It has provided management with ability to predict operation stability with future volumes, minimise bottlenecks and test further warehouse design modifications with confidence before construction work begins.

“We are currently developing further models working with AutoLogic Systems such as a more complex layout with narrow pick lanes using one way pick layout, case pick shelving, two stage replenishment and more conveyors. There is also the possibility of creating manufacturing line models.”