Like many companies in the beverage industry, Wirtz Beverage Illinois was faced with the challenge of expansion to support increased demand. Westfalia Technologies Inc.’s automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) and warehouse management system (WMS) provided Wirtz Beverage with the ability to adapt to changing market conditions while enabling future growth of the business, the company says.

“The design led to us being more cost and labor efficient,” said Richard Ruane, director of warehouse operations for the Cicero, Ill.-based company.

Working together, Westfalia and Wirtz Beverage designed an AS/RS, which includes three tandem cranes capable of moving 200 pallets an hour that can carry more than 1,000 SKUs and 2.2 million cases of inventory. Wirtz Beverage was able to increase its loading capacity to 78,000 cases during a period of 10 hours, the company says. The 110,000-square-foot system allows the company to store 1.3 million cases in about one-third of the space of a conventional warehouse alternative, it says.

?Also, designed within the AS/RS are eight fully integrated pick modules handling the company’s highest volume product. The system replenishes the modules automatically into the pick face through pallet flow lanes. This solution fulfills 75-80 percent of the case needs for Wirtz Beverage customers, the company says.

“Our receiving docks were set up in front of the AS/RS, which gives us the efficiency of not having to drive throughout the warehouse to put away all of our inbound product,” Ruane explains. “We cut our receiving time of our primary product in half.”

Westfalia’s Savanna.Net WMS is the power behind the AS/RS. Savanna.Net provides control of all product flows and maximum system flexibility, which allowed Westfalia to customize the functionality specific to Wirtz Beverage, the company says.

• Westfalia Technologies Inc., 3655 Sandhurst Drive, York, Pa. 17406; 717/764-1115;