Britvic’s 275,000 sq ft national hub at Lutterworth was a showcase for automation technology when it opened but time has moved on and operator Wincanton has been working hard to ensure the systems are up to date.
Britvic’s high bay storage area is served by 17 individual cranes, which were originally controlled through two logic controllers. These worked in tandem with each crane’s individual Siemens S5 controller. After several months use, it became clear that greater operational efficiencies could be gained by using a more bespoke solution.
Chris Dockree, general manager for Wincanton, says: “With the advancement in programmable logic controller technology, we realised that by installing individual control systems for each crane – in this case Siemens S7s – we could more closely monitor crane performance, without the need to shut half the operation down should maintenance be needed.”
The site has also benefited from an ongoing HMI (human-machine interface) project. Savoye was involved in implementing several of the retrospective systems. Systems support engineer at Savoye, Russell Jesson says: “By introducing a number of HMI improvements to the system, engineers no longer have to leave the central control room to visit the actual location of the issue. Now they can diagnose problems far more quickly.”
In a similar vein, ‘talking HMIs’ have also been introduced to Britvic’s central control room, which were initially greeted by the team with some scepticism, but soon proved their worth. “We realised that the operators already had enough monitors, alarms and warning lights to monitor, so we decided a simple text-to-voice system would reduce the potential for information overload,” explained Bob Symons, logistic solutions manager for Britvic. “Since installation, it’s worked really well, with most faults being able to be quickly resolved without the team having to move away from their screens. It has made the process a lot more user-friendly.”
One measure of performance is known as accumulation time – the number of minutes it takes for an order to be processed, loaded onto pallets and made ready for dispatch. Following the upgrades, accumulation times at the site have been cut by some 50 per cent.