Greek dairy producer Hellenic Dairies is a longstanding Tetra Pak® customer with seven filling lines and extensive processing equipment. The company holds a strong position in south-east Europe for liquid dairy products, cheese, yoghurt and juices, nectars and still drinks. In 2016, a major investment in their plant in Brasov, Romania, working closely with Tetra Pak and our strategic supplier Elettric80, resulted in the installation of a comprehensive range of end-of-line and warehousing equipment. As a result, all operations within the plant are now automated, virtually eliminating errors, enhancing productivity and delivering significant cost savings.
Building on strong traditions
Hellenic Dairies was established in 1985 and initially focused on making high quality products from local milk for sale in its home region, Thessaly. As the product portfolio has expanded to include new types of cheese, yoghurt, juices, butter and dairy alternatives, so has its geographical reach: in 2000, the company began selling across Greece, and today products are exported to nearly 20 countries with significant markets including Germany, Italy, UK, Sweden and China.
Hellenic Dairies has worked with Tetra Pak for more than 25 years, establishing its processing business too, and today the company runs seven filling lines including three Tetra Pak A3/Flex, two Tetra Pak A3/CompactFlex, one Tetra Pak TR/27 and one Tetra Pak TR/7 lines.
The challenge: lack of end-of-line automation leading to many errors
Hellenic Dairies established its presence in Romania in 1999. In 2011 it decided to invest in a greenfield site in Brasov and since then it has continued investing to expand its product portfolio and capabilities in the region. Nevertheless, they faced several challenges to the efficient running of the plant. The high staff turnover (a consequence of Romania’s strikingly low unemployment rate), the absence of automised processes and the suboptimal structure in the workspace was leading to inefficiencies, including wasted energy and space but also errors in palletisation. The flow of information between the ERP system and production was done manually, leading to errors in order handling.
Overall, these issues were costing Hellenic Dairies around €250,000 per year. Productivity was affected, traceability was difficult and there was a largely reactive approach to tackling problems. The company’s response was to set out to automate the plant, introducing automated procedures throughout and making the best possible use of its existing infrastructure.
A tailormade solution
Hellenic Dairies considered proposals from several suppliers, choosing Elettric80 for its expertise, and the fact that the proposed solution was perfectly tailored to the size and layout of the site. Elettric80’s plan involved automating virtually all the end-of-line and warehouse operations in the Brasov plant: palletising; pallet wrapping; labelling; warehousing; preparing orders; pallet inspection; and picking.
The Smart Decision Maker software provided by Elettric80 acts as the “brain” for the entire automatic warehouse system, offering instant access to feedback and information that can then be used to further improve performance. It also integrates seamlessly with Tetra Pak® Batch Manager and Tetra Pak® Line Controller, enabling total integration and synchronisation of all operations from finished goods department to logistics. Delivery and installation were split into two phases: the two robot palletisers and the pallet wrapper were up and running at full capacity within three months of delivery.
The remaining nine laser guided vehicles and automatic warehouse passed final validation, with all operators trained, just six months after delivery. The implementation was done seamlessly, without disrupting the factory’s normal production output.
Team working delivers benefits all round
The solution provided by Elettric80 has delivered benefits in the end-of-line and warehouse areas and has streamlined the connection with logistics. The plant now operates under a single integrated system, which offers complete transparency in monitoring and measuring the performance of individual areas, and finished goods traceability. Employees now function effectively as a team and problem areas – such as pallets being stored in a corridor designed for forklift traffic – have been eliminated as part of the overall optimisation of the physical space.
The palletising equipment provided means that pallets are now formed and wrapped automatically, eliminating errors and ensuring that lines can operate smoothly and continuously. Highlights include:
- End-of-line production rate up, reflecting in full utilisation of filling line capacity
- Shipping errors eliminated
- Film cost per pallet reduced by 60%
- Servicing and materials costs for manual forklifts reduced by 45%
- Refrigeration and space optimised
- 100% wooden pallet inspection prior to production
- 100% finished goods traceability
The strong longstanding relationship between Tetra Pak and Hellenic Dairies was instrumental in introducing the customer to the advanced automation solutions of Elettric80. Elettric80’s expertise, comprehensive logistics portfolio range and the full integration with Tetra Pak lines matched perfectly with Hellenic Dairies’ requirement to have one supplier for equipment and system integration. Elettric80 was able to provide a completely customised solution and smooth implementation, despite the challenges presented by this particular plant and its operations, enabling Hellenic Dairies to start its journey towards a fully automated plant.