News Archive 2014

Turnkey storage & distribution system for Synutra France Handling Automation
Egemin Automation has received a new major warehouse automation order from Synutra France. The order comprises the design and installation of a turnkey intralogistics system for Synutra’s new milk powder processing plant in Carhaix, Brittany. The system is to provide automated management of all flows of raw materials, finished products and consumables. It will be operational by the end of 2015.


Faced by the growing worldwide demand – driven by Asian countries in particular – the major European milk producer countries are embarking on a production race. France, the second largest European producer, needs to modernise its operations in order to maintain its position.

In this economic context, Sodiaal (the third largest European milk cooperative, which has 14,000 producers and markets the Candia, Régilait and Yoplait brands, among others) and Synutra (the third largest Chinese producer of milk powder) have entered into a commercial partnership. Synutra is investing EUR 135 million in France in what will be “the most modern, largest milk powder production plant in the world,” according to Liang Zhang, Synutra’s CEO. By 2015, the new plant should be producing up to 300,000 tonnes of milk powder per year exclusively for the Chinese market. The new plant will provide new opportunities for the 1,000 Breton dairy farmers supplying it with milk.


To achieve production at this level, Synutra has opted to equip the production site and the warehouse with a turnkey intralogistics solution. This solution needs to cover automated management, transport and storage of all flows of raw materials, finished products and consumables. The decision to entrust Egemin with this project was taken because of Egemin’s experience in automated material handling systems and its ability to supply a full set of installations (automatic storage/retrieval systems, AGVs and conveyors) and synchronise it using its own software and controls. The solution comprises:
  • A conveyor loop in the receiving area
  • An automated warehouse with a capacity of 9,000 pallets with 5 automatic storage/retrieval systems
  • 6 AGVs to distribute raw materials and consumables within the plant
  • A conveyor loop in the shipping area
  • A WMS/WCS software system for warehouse management and control of all transport and storage systems.


In the receiving area, external pallets are identified and placed on a plastic slave pallet. The slave pallet is identified using an RFID tag, then conveyed to the automated warehouse through the conveyor loop. At the end of the production lines, a fleet of 6 AGVs transports pallets loaded with 25 kg bags and 1.2 tonne big bags to a stretch wrapper. Next, these loads are picked by the AGVs once again and returned to the automated warehouse. The AGVs also supply consumables (spoons, boxes, etc.) from the automated warehouse to the production lines.

The big bags for shipment to China are transported to the shipping area on the conveyor system. A pallet exchange system swaps the plastic pallets, used to carry the big bags, for wooden pallets. Its operation is synchronised with the operation of the conveyor system. Milk powder products are also stored in the automated warehouse on plastic pallets. Upon shipping, the products are loaded into containers with a slip sheet. The plastic pallet stays on the conveyor loop to be reused in production. The system makes it possible to optimise the load volume of the containers.

E’wms®, Egemin’s WMS/WCS warehouse software, manages the intralogistics solution as a whole.

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