An overhaul of its order-picking system enabled Fazer Bakeries to benet
from the latest robotic technology.

Fazer is the leading bakery company in Finland and a renowned brand in the Baltic Sea area and Russia. With 19 bakeries across Scandinavia and Russia, Fazer exports its bakery products to 20 countries.

The challenge

Operational reliability is essential for any business, but in the bakery sector, it is critical due to the fresh nature of the products and delivery frequency.

This was the problem facing Fazer Bakeries, Finland’s leading bakery company with 19 factories across the Baltic Sea area and Russia, at its Lahti plant. The site’s automated order-picking system – installed by Cimcorp back in 2004 – was nearing the end of its life cycle.

With spare parts beginning to be unavailable, Fazer had to use less reliable second-hand spares. Consequently, system interruptions were increasing, requiring unscheduled maintenance at additional cost.

With products baked on demand and a lead time of less than 15 hours from order to delivery, dispatch was sometimes affected. This meant product wastage and the risk that customers would turn to competitors’ products.

The solution

Fazer Bakeries compared two alternatives: a low-end retrot that changed only the controller and wearing components of the old-generation system, or a full retrot to include new, energy-efficient gantry robots with full warranty. With the full-scale option securing a lifetime of up to 20 years support and spare parts availability, the low-end option was soon abandoned.

Having a full retrofit also allowed Fazer to tweak the plant’s layout to accommodate a maintenance area that would comply with the latest safety regulations, as well as provide more storage space.

Cimcorp’s retrofit proposal for Fazer included the latest gantry robots from its Cimcorp+ series, supplied with a new controller and more intuitive user interface.

During installation, order picking was completed manually by Fazer’s existing workforce but precise project scheduling by Cimcorp meant that this period was minimized.

We have completed several projects and I have to say that the implementation of this one has been exceptional. We got an hour-by-hour installation schedule beforehand, and it was adhered to through-out the process. The project management was excellent and unprecedented.

Mika Suvanto, Factory Director, Fazer Bakeries Lahti

Benefits and results of bakery retrofit

Cimcorp’s solution combines buffer storage and order-picking operations in one automated system, supervised by Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System (WCS), which takes care of the entire material flow from the production lines to the loading docks.

Tailor-made training was provided by Cimcorp for all system operators. Taking place both before and during installation, the training ensured a trouble-free start-up period.

In addition, Cimcorp’s support personnel stayed on site for the first few weeks of operation to provide any further training as required and ensure that the system was running smoothly.

With the solution tested off-site in advance, installation and start-up were rapid and smooth. Pre-testing also allowed Cimcorp to provide highly accurate project scheduling – hour by hour – that helped Fazer to organize its labor and minimize the impact on its deliveries. The change-over for a new system at the Lahti plant was only two weeks.

30% higher productivity has been a major benefit of the new system. With aluminum construction, the new Cimcorp+ gantry robots are considerably lighter, and consequently, order picking is 13% faster, leading to increased capacity.

The automation system allows orders to be picked in the correct order for the dispatch schedule and loaded into delivery vehicles in the optimal drop sequence. This not only saves time and transport costs but also results in higher customer satisfaction through more predictable and punctual deliveries.

Lower operating costs have been achieved due to the higher energy eciency of the Cimcorp+ robots, leading to up to 40% lower energy consumption.

This results not only from the lighter, aluminum construction but also the regenerative braking process, by which the controller feeds energy back to the power network.

With fewer wearing parts, the system also offers lower maintenance costs and a longer life, with a full warranty and customer support now provided.

Enhanced user friendliness is appreciated by the system operators at Lahti. With intuitive user interfaces and error diagnostics, the system directs operators through the process, so that there are fewer things to remember.

Operators can run the system; monitor the operating status of both equipment and data communications; manage the storage, storage locations, robot work cycles, and routing; control product data; request emptying of the picking oor; and monitor and control the loads of individual handling devices.

Increased space was another important benefit for Fazer, allowing the company to expand its maintenance area without the need to invest in a new building. In addition, the space-ecient new layout meant Fazer was able to increase its storage capacity by some 1,800 crates.

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