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Olvi brewery – Refreshed with automation

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Since its founding in 1878, the Finnish brewery has overcome many changes, including the diversification of product ranges, new packaging and production growth. For dispatch automation, Cimcorp is its trusted partner with a proven track record.

“The determined program of growth began when Finland joined the European Union,” explains Marjatta Rissanen, Customer Service and Administration Director at Olvi. The company recognized it needed to update its production and distribution to meet the modern needs of consumers.

With the order of an automated order picking system, Olvi and Cimcorp launched the first step in their longstanding partnership.

Rissanen says, “We consider ourselves agile and smart, with one of our greatest strengths being local decision making. We can react quickly to trends in product and operational development.” “We expect our partners to share our passion,” she continues, “to be future-orientated, eager to innovate and develop and, most of all, to make those innovative ideas become reality – like we do.”

A continuing mutual trust

Over the years, the two companies have worked together to perfect the system – not just increasing the capacity, but also preparing for future changes in the industry.

For the next step after the first installation – a massive investment to increase picking capacity and build an automated warehouse – it was natural for Olvi to contact Cimcorp.

“When we realized that Cimcorp was able to supply us with an order picking system and a new high-bay warehouse, both controlled by Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System (WCS), the choice was easy to make. It is more convenient for everything to come from one partner and that the whole system runs smoothly,” says Rissanen.

Most recently, Olvi has ordered a new dolly picking system and modified the previous order picking solution to handle kegs.

Seasonal changes put pressure on logistics

The high-bay warehouse and order picking system are used to level out the seasonal swings that are typical in beverage consumption. “Deliveries in June and July are 20-25 percent higher than during the winter months. The variation is significant, so we start preparing for the summer in March,” says Ilkka Heikkilä, Logistics Foreman at the Olvi brewery in Iisalmi. “This puts pressure on the warehouse and shipping.”

When nearly one percent of annual production can leave the facility on one day during the peak season, everything must run smoothly. All orders are picked and packed to customer-specific pallets, from the smallest kiosks to the biggest superstores. “We rely on the skill of our operators and the accuracy of automation to ensure that everything is done properly,” Heikkilä explains.

Order picking is critical to a brewery, and all order picking at Olvi is handled by the Cimcorp solution.

“We have promised our customers almost 100 percent delivery accuracy and we are committed to ensuring that,” says Heikkilä.

Cimcorp software controls the material flow

Breweries have strict statutory security and control requirements. At Olvi in Iisalmi, Cimcorp’s software controls the material flow from production to the loading dock. “The inventory has to be 100 percent accurate and absolutely reliable, with no exceptions – and I am happy to say that with our current warehouse control system, this is a reality,” Rissanen adds.

With the combination of the high-bay warehouse, conveyors and order picking robots, the Cimcorp solution can pick 90 percent of Olvi’s orders, with the remainder handled by voice picking, all under the control of Cimcorp software.

TEXT Anna-Mari Vuollet PHOTO Arto Helin

Olvi Plc is a listed company and has more than 10,000 shareowners, with the major owners being the Olvi Foundation and the Hortling family. Since 1996, Olvi Plc has acquired a number of leading breweries in the Baltic region and Belarus – A. Le Coq AS of Estonia, Cesu Alus A/S of Latvia, Volfas Engelman AB of Lithuania and Lidskoe Pivo OAO of Belarus are all now part of the Olvi Group.

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