Automation increases safety and efficiency in everyday brewery operations

Homogeneous concept with solutions from a single source.

Lack of space, excessively high stocks of empties, winding paths in narrow halls, outdated industrial trucks and long pick-up times at the loading ramp – this is everyday life in many breweries. As a result, intralogistics is expensive, fraught with danger and inflexible. Breweries are therefore more dependent than ever on automated processes along the value chain that offer safety and efficiency.

The need for automation solutions for smooth processes begins where the brewmaster’s job ends – downstream of the filling process. And the tasks for a flawless process within the brewery are manifold: They include, for example, the storage of raw materials, the handling of cardboard boxes, but also the provision of crown corks for cleaned and filled bottles or the handling of empties.
TRAPO GmbH focuses on the part of intralogistics and offers with partial or full automation the possibility to optimize and automate pallet transport, warehouse logistics as well as truck loading and unloading. Palletizing and depalletizing are performed with robots and multifunctional grippers. The final intralogistics task is truck loading, which, like unloading, can be performed autonomously with the TRAPO loading system. An automation that can replace the risky use of forklifts.

Automation from a single source

Time and again, accidents occur during activities at the loading site, resulting not only in damage to the goods, but also in injuries on the part of the vehicle drivers or the loading personnel. According to the German Statutory Accident Insurance Association, there were around 13,000 serious occupational accidents in 2019. The TRAPO GmbH team is continuously working on solutions to minimize these risks. Together with representatives from renowned universities, the TRAPO team develops new approaches for the overall line. For example, the concept of the TRAPO Loading System (TLS 3600) was developed. The TLS gets its name from a special feature: It loads 3 pallets of 1200 kg each in parallel in one operation, i.e. 3600 kg in total.
Analogous to the respective automation order, TRAPO GmbH supplies coordinated, in-house designed components from its own production, which have proven themselves in everyday practice: mechanically one structure, control-technically one system. Users have a central partner for all hardware and software issues. Automated components offer numerous advantages. The overall systems operate as quiet as a whisper and with low vibration. This applies to robot-controlled palletizing as well as to the onward transport of packs with automated guided vehicles, right through to autonomous loading and unloading. Another core competence are individual gripper systems – adapted to the use in breweries.

Coordinated internal transport

Most breweries have grown gradually, premises have been built as required – the total area available is limited. Operators are therefore dependent on flexible and space-saving solutions for material transport. Rigid conveyor technology blocks space unnecessarily. Automated guided vehicles are an alternative, enabling multiple use of existing space.
Among other things, a plus in safety is achieved by dispensing with forklifts. Particularly at peak times with high truck volumes, there is no need for people to be present in the danger zone. Instead, a swarm of autonomously moving systems such as the TRAPO Transport Shuttle (TTS series) acts at hazardous locations. As standard, the TTS transports loads of up to 2,000 kilograms within production. It can be flexibly configured according to a modular principle: Sizes, energy transmission and storage as well as drive and navigation can be combined as required. TRAPO GmbH also offers overall system competence for internal transport – for example, when returnable drums are transported, cleaned, refilled, palletized and loaded fully automatically. Connected to the empties warehouse outside, where empties handling is carried out conventionally, automated guided vehicles take over in the hall area to transport the crates onward in an automated manner.

Intelligent process control

Ideally, the components are controlled by a higher-level system. The TRAPO Intelligent Managementsystem (TIM) combines automation expertise that has grown up in the field of intralogistics and brewery know-how. The system solution scores with suitable functions both with regard to preventive maintenance and real-time interventions: As soon as performance drops in production, the personnel at the machine receive a warning including an indication of the affected part or error. In this way, for example, process or batch problems that occur during ongoing production can be identified and corrected.
The raw material order can also be optimized with TIM: The system continuously collects management-relevant figures. On this basis, the demand can be evaluated and the raw materials can be ordered, stored, and supplied via conveyor technology on a demand-driven basis with pinpoint accuracy. TIM also controls the processes within the brewery, selects free shuttles and sends them on the shortest or fastest route to the work site. On the one hand, they supply full and empty warehouses, and on the other hand, they transport assembled pallets to the loading ramp. This leads to a permanent increase in capacity.
TIM maintains the Weihenstephan standard:

  • with efficiency analysis
  • control and monitoring of production processes
  • predictive maintenance and digital shopping basket for spare parts.
  • shipment tracking and warehouse management
  • lifetime monitoring of actuators

The actual data analysis can be used uniformly, with restricted authorizations for the respective user level. In addition, TIM enables the continuous, management-relevant retrieval of data on plant conditions and enables continuous optimizations, which in turn permanently achieve high plant availability. Of course, third-party plants can be integrated into the MES system or competencies of TIM can be integrated into existing systems.

Safety risk yard and ramp management

For a safe and homogeneous concept to the end, loading and unloading in the brewery industry is also done by an autonomous system. The innovative TRAPO Loading System (TLS 3600) is a high-tech vehicle with laser scanners for detecting the truck contour, which thanks to rear-wheel steering is able to automatically compensate for slight tilting of the truck. In a single operation, it loads three pallets of 1,200 kilograms each in parallel, i.e. a total of 3,600 kilograms, and in combination with the automated guided vehicle systems replaces forklift truck transports between production, warehouse and loading zone. Loading takes place in four steps: First, up to three pallets are placed side by side in a row on the stationary part of the system and aligned. This is followed by picking up and loading the row. During the loading process, another row of pallets is formed on the stationary part and made available. A continuous process that saves time and distance and avoids waiting times during pallet loading. This automation can save personnel in the transport sector, increases safety and requires little space. This is because the TLS – optionally placed on rails or on a 20-ton AGV – can serve several hubs.

Automation from a single source – a guarantee of quality

The requirements for safe and efficient processes for breweries are manifold. TRAPO is continuously working on solutions to minimize hazardous situations in the brewery environment. The expert supplies all components plus software from a single source. Users can thus exclude sources of error, operate permanently at maximum performance and are highly flexible in their use.

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