Rocla’s Automation Solution For Valio
Valio, Finland’s biggest milk processor and the national market leader in dairy products, has chosen Rocla’s automated guided vehicles for its cheese factories in Finland. In these locations, more than 250 million litres of milk are processed annually. The AGVs handle the routine pallet transfers from production to preparation for shipping.
The Rocla AGVs feature Valio’s product brands as design covers. These AGVs have been in full action for more than a year now. Valio logistics manager Tiina Kujala is very pleased with the new way of working.
“Before, same pallet transfers were handled by human-operated trucks. The premises are often very confined, and distances are not that great. The work itself caused stress to employees and a challenge in work safety,” recalls Tiina Kujala.
Pallets are loaded with products at intervals of only a few minutes. In order to keep the production line running smoothly, the full pallets need to be transported right away for shipment. In the past, the drivers had to be ready all the time to move the full pallets to shipment preparation. “We were wondering why a good employee should have to handle this kind of boring work phase. We wanted to find a new solution for this,” explains factory manager Heikki Makela.
Heikki Makela contacted Rocla, who took up this challenge. Rocla’s professionals examined the situation and the customer needs, coming up with an optimal automation solution to replace the old way of working. The vehicles are equipped with tilting forks. This makes it possible to load and unload from gravity conveyors.
In addition, the vehicles are equipped with barcode scanners that can later be updated to operate as RFID readers. The delivery also includes the Rocla MetRo warehouse management system (WMS), which controls the warehouse and gets deliveries to the right place at the right time. The inventories are always up to date.
The Rocla AGVs have fulfilled expectations. Personnel have been very positive about the automation. It has increased work safety at the factory: thanks to the safety equipment and sensors, there are no collisions or damaged products anymore. Using the AGVs is also easy.
“All of the production personnel participated in the basic training, and a few people were trained as main users. In the beginning, Rocla’s 24/7 help desk was in use, but for quite some time the automation system has been running on its own very nicely,” compliments Tiina Kujala.
The factory manager is proud of the added image value with the Rocla AGVs. “For example, our American colleagues and other visitors have noticed the new AGVs right away – many of them are still using old technology for these transfers,” Heikki Makela says.
Reference: Food & Drink Business Europe magazine