The Coca-Cola HBC Group is currently opening its newest and most modern fully automated warehouse in Prague
In July of this year, Coca-Cola HBC Czech Republic and Slovakia successfully launched the trial operation of a new, fully automated warehouse, which is the company’s newest warehouse in Europe. It covers an area of over 9,000 m2 and stores over 21,000 pallets of the world’s most popular drinks. In addition to state-of-the-art warehouse technologies using elements of artificial intelligence, the company’s premises in Kyje, Prague are also home to a newly built wetland system. As part of a sustainable approach, this wetland will allow rainwater captured from the facility to return to nature instead of draining it into the sewer. The automated warehouse was ceremoniously opened on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 with the participation of representatives of Coca-Cola HBC Czech Republic and Slovakia, STRABAG, System Logistics, and the deputy mayor of the Prague 14 district.
The premises of Coca-Cola HBC CZ/SK in Kyje, Prague, have expanded to include a new warehouse equipped with the latest technologies. An investment of almost half a billion crowns has resulted in the construction of a hall with an area of 9,125 m2 that can hold over 21,000 pallets. The manufacturers of this iconic beverage will thus be able to better manage current distribution needs in order to ensure perfect service to their customers. At the same time, it has been designed to cover future potential growth and the expansion of its product portfolio. In addition to leading warehousing technologies using automated solutions with elements of artificial intelligence, the investment also includes the modernization of the outdoor areas with an eye on sustainability and respect for the environment as well as the reduction of noise pollution for the surrounding community.
“Although the entire project was planned long before the COVID crisis, we managed to complete this large European investment in time and launch operation within 15 months of the start of construction. The hall itself boasts a number of cutting-edge modern technologies that will contribute to better service to our customers. What I’m especially proud of, though, is the wetland system built on the land near the warehouse. This is where all the rainwater from buildings and adjacent areas will be drained, water that would otherwise end up in the sewers. The water will thus naturally return to nature and contribute to the promotion of biological diversity of the surrounding environment. In the hot summer months, it will also ensure a gentle cooling of the surrounding environment,” explains Jan Turek, Supply Chain Manager (production and logistics) at Coca-Cola HBC CZ/SK.
The construction of the new hall started in March 2020, so a mere 470 days passed before the launch of trial operation on July 12, 2021. “During this period, they managed to build not only a hall with an area of more than 9,000 m2 including all the necessary technologies under the difficult conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but also the surrounding roads, noise walls, loading shelters, and the construction of a wetland. In order to ensure the efficiency of pallet transport, the new automated warehouse was connected to the original warehouse. The proper functionality of the automated technologies required that the highest constructional demands were placed on this project on the flatness of floors and the partial fulfillment of deadlines which would enable us to start installing the necessary technologies” describes Tomáš Rys, technical director of STRABAG.
A camera system using artificial intelligence means that the hall is equipped with a modern system to check for proper preparation and loading. Pallet storage and retrieval is ensured by automatically controlled stackers that operate the racking system. The maximum capacity of the seven-storey warehouse design is 21,168 pallet positions. The direct automatic connection of the PET production line with a capacity of 72 pallets per hour to the new warehouse ensures that the first time that people touch the products from this line will be the moment they’re loaded onto the trucks. Receipt from production to the automatic warehouse is realized through a single collection point known as the “hub”. From there, the pallets are transported by conveyors to the newly built automatic warehouse.
Dispatch from the warehouse works on the JIT (just in time) principle, which means that the actual unloading of pallets begins when the driver registers for loading. Even with this, the system allows the required number of pallets to fill the entire truck to be prepared in just 15 to 20 minutes. Nine dispensing ramps make it possible to unload more than 250 pallets of goods in a single hour. The system also supports the sorting of pallets so that they respect the needs of distribution and customer requirements in terms of storage on the vehicle or the production/consumption dates.
“Given the need to limit the height of the warehouse to 20 meters, we had to go with a double depth design. In normal warehouses, however, this doesn’t allow for the storage of variable products within the same aisle. This kind of variability was what the client requested. That’s why we developed a unique design that allows for variability even at double warehouse depths and which contributes to high warehouse efficiency,” states Luca Canali, describing the state-of-the-art automated warehouse technology from System Logistics, which supplied the new warehouse with the equipment.
The ceremonial opening of the Coca-Cola HBC automated warehouse took place on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. In addition to representatives of Coca-Cola HBC CZ/SK, the event was also attended by representatives of STRABAG and System Logistics. The mayor, deputy mayors, and other representatives of the Prague 14 – Kyje district also accepted the invitation. The program also included a guided tour which gave media representatives the opportunity to see both the new storage facilities and the outdoor wetland area for the first time.