A series of acquisitions has led to considerable growth for independent, family-owned and -operated spirits producer/supplier Heaven Hill Brands—but it also left the company's Bardstown, Ky., warehouse bursting at the seams recently, with the facility operating at full capacity and limited expansion options. That's when Heaven Hill turned to York, Pa.-based warehouse automation specialist Westfalia Technologies for a solution that would increase storage capacity, improve productivity, and accommodate growth. Heaven Hill installed Westfalia's automated equipment at the Bardstown warehouse last year and has since seen dramatic improvements in storage capacity and shipping capabilities, the companies said.
As the companies explain, what Heaven Hill needed was a way to accommodate growth and improve upon the manual process it was using to run the facility. The answer was Westfalia's high-density automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) with an integrated layer pick system and the company's Savanna.NET warehouse execution system (WES). The solution allows Heaven Hill to meet throughput requirements, boost shipping efficiency, increase its warehouse storage capacity, and scale up as the company expands. Specifically, the combination of the AS/RS and layer pick system enables Heaven Hill to seamlessly convey pallets from palletizing to storage and on to truck-staging lanes, streamlining the order fulfillment process. In addition, the WES directs all activities in the warehouse and provides real-time inventory visibility and tracking.
Space savings is at the heart of the new solution. Westfalia's high-density AS/RS maximized storage capacity at Heaven Hill's existing site with a rack structure that covers three aisles with more than 27,000 pallet rack positions, serviced by four tandem pallet storage/retrieval machines (S/RMs). The system features storage blocks of multiple storage-lane depths, including two outside storage blocks that can hold pallets six deep and middle storage blocks that hold up to 10 pallets. This gives Heaven Hill the flexibility to configure the middle storage blocks with varying lane depths, based on the inventory levels of each stock-keeping unit (SKU), according to Westfalia.
"A key benefit of a high-density AS/RS is its unique ability to improve space utilization in an existing facility without the need for a costly expansion or off-site storage," Westfalia Technologies President Dan Labell said in a statement describing the project. "This is especially appealing to the wine and spirits industry, as many producers and distributors, like Heaven Hill, are operating at maximum capacity, while handling a growing number of SKUs. Westfalia's AS/RS, integrated with our Savanna.NET WES, will provide Heaven Hill with additional operational efficiencies, cost savings and a competitive advantage."
Both companies say the Westfalia/Heaven Hill project is yielding impressive results. They report that the spirits supplier has increased its storage capacity by 40 percent and is shipping products 400 percent faster than it did before, improvements that will help Heaven Hill meet its long-term objectives.
"Our ability to significantly cut down our dock time and truck turnaround time is a big step in moving toward being the shipper of choice," said Cindy Mouser, Heaven Hill's director of supply chain and bottling operations, in the statement. "At Heaven Hill, we expect future growth for both our company and our brands, and Westfalia's Savanna.NET really gives us the systems and leverage to be able to accommodate that growth."