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Swisslog marks 50 years of automated stacker crane

DUBAI, September 24, 2019

Switzerland-based Swisslog, a subsidiary of the German robots manufacturer Kuka, is marking the 50th anniversary of Vectura, its automated stacker crane for pallet warehouses.

“We built the first crane in 1969. Over the decades, many committed employees have continued to enhance and optimize it – all the way to today’s Vectura system, which is still a top seller in our portfolio,” said Dr Christian Baur, CEO of Swisslog.

Swisslog has completed a total of 575 logistics projects in 35 countries, with a total of 3,870 stacker cranes installed.

The customer list includes Walmart, Target, Woolworth, Michelin Nordic, Gries Deco Company, and Rewe, among others.

Others relying on Swisslog’s pallet handling technology include Scandinavian fashion retailer Varner, Jurong Cold Store, UAE-based leading bottled water supplier Mai Dubai as well as Almarai, the Saudi Arabian group and one of the largest vertically integrated dairy company that also specialises in fruit juices, bakery products, poultry and infant nutrition.

The Vectura story began 50 years ago with a 10-meter hydraulic crane designed to store and retrieve pallets. The first fully automated version followed 10 years later, in 1979. As proof of the technology’s versatility and durability, a Swisslog customer in Norway is still using it today. Since then, Vectura has evolved into a high-tech system based on state-of-the-art software and a range of different control hardware.

The system has three major core attributes: sustainability, plug & play capability, and reliability. Compared to similar products, Vectura stacker cranes are extremely energy-efficient, in part because of their lightweight construction and innovative mast design.

Plug & play capability means that each Vectura crane is prewired, parameterized and tested prior to delivery, which speeds up installation and commissioning at the customer site. Vectura’s reliability is based on superior product quality using proven standard components, low-wear operation, and ease of maintenance.

“We were looking for a scalable, cost efficient, ergonomic and green solution,” explained Anders Eriksson, head of Logistics at Varner. “Swisslog’s innovative solution design was the final convincing factor.”

Swisslog’s latest innovation for its Vectura system is Single Mast Double Load Handling: This design allows a single mast to handle two pallets at the same time, increasing the throughput and cost efficiency of automated high-bay pallet warehouses. A major international furniture retailer is already using this solution in Malaysia.

Swisslog’s customers in the Middle East also chose Vectura as one of the advanced solutions for their automated warehouses. To meet steadily climbing demand, Mai Dubai, bottled water producer in the UAE, decided at the end of 2016 to further expand production by 2020. The major expansion project includes planning and implementing a new six-aisle automated high-bay warehouse for raw products and packaging materials.

A few hundred meters away, another high-bay warehouse with 17,560 pallet locations will be erected for finished goods. Vectura automated storage and retrieval stacker cranes connected to the transport system will provide swift and efficient storage and retrieval processes in both warehouses. The Vectura stacker crane from Swisslog also provides reliable handling of pallets in the Almarai high-bay warehouse in Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia.

“In recent years, our company strategy has focused primarily on future-proof data-driven logistics solutions for the light goods sector as well as robotics,” added Christian Baur. “At the same time, our pallet technology continues to play an important role. It’s the backbone of our company, and that won’t change.”

Over the decades, Swisslog has built a reputation for its pallet handling technology, which forms the foundation of many automated high-bay warehouses. Today, innovations such as PowerStore, a Swisslog pallet shuttle system first used in the beverage industry, expand classic solutions and boost their performance. Flexible software modules enable the smart integration of pallet systems into state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. Condition Monitoring, as implemented at pharmaceutical company Roche, ensures seamless process control and minimizes the risk of unplanned downtimes. – TradeArabia News Service




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