Case: Coveris

Plastics packaging manufacturer Coveris Rigid Finland is part of the sixth-largest plastics packaging entity in the world. The AGVs in Hämeenlinna factory work in three shifts, handling several tasks. MetRo warehouse management system controls the traffic flow and takes care of the work queue. Coveris has opted for a long term rental agreement from Rocla.

The transport system of six AGVs in Hämeenlinna, Finland was delivered to Coveris by Rocla in 2013. The ATX12 automated guided vehicles are designed for standard pallet and cage handling and transfer operations. They move between the warehouse and production units, and they are able to lift pallets and cages up till 1.8 meters height and handle load-on-load operations. For navigation the AGVs at Coveris use laser triangulation: reflectors attached to walls, shelves and other structures are scanned by a rotating laser scanner on the truck.

– The process starts with the AGVs picking up cages, pallets and cardboard containers from the warehouse, and taking them to our production area where molding and printing happens. The materials also need to be transported between the various production units, and the AGVs take care of this. When everything is ready, the AGVs pick up the pallets and cages from production, usually loading two of them on top of each other. The AGVs then take the load to a stretch wrapping machine and when wrapping is done, the pallets and cages are delivered to the warehouse, describes Juhani Karhunen, Technology Manager at Coveris Rigid Finland.

In addition to the automated guided vehicles Coveris has Rocla MetRo warehouse management system in use. When an AGV is needed for example to take the cages from the printing unit for wrapping, the operator places an order to MetRo system and the vehicle chosen by the system arrives to pick up the order. MetRo is tailored to provide all the reports needed, and it also keeps a record of all the service calls.   

All the AGVs at Coveris are named after women: Marilyn, Evelyn, Patsy, Rita and the rest of the vehicles move continuously on the corridors of the production facilities and in the warehouse. As the factory operates in three shifts, the AGVs are in use almost constantly, stopping only for short periods of time between the orders. When the battery needs to be changed, the vehicle automatically goes to the changing station and an operator changes the used battery to a fully charged one. The process is easy and the AGV returns to its duties in a few minutes time. 

– The current AGV system has now been in use for about a year, but we have a long experience of Rocla’s automated guided vehicles, as we had a similar system from Rocla at our old facilities. Now instead of two AGVs, we now have six of them. As we work in three shifts, using AGVs helps us in cutting the material handling costs significantly. It is easy to understand that a similar non-automated transport system would require a lot of people to drive the forklift trucks, explains Juhani Karhunen.

In addition to buying an AGV system, it is also possible to rent it from Rocla Solutions. Coveris opted for long term rental.

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