Efficient maturing warehouses: the advantages of Industry 4.0 automatic machines

Efficient maturing warehouses: leveraging the advantages of Industry 4.0 automatic machines.

In all sectors, from manufacturing to aging warehouses, the installation of 4.0 automatic machinery results in a significant increase in productivity, with an average estimated increase of up to 50%.

This increase is influenced by various factors, such as the effective integration between automated systems and management software, the quality and reliability of the equipment, the training and motivation of the personnel, the size and complexity of the warehouse, as well as the quantity of goods moved.

In addition, new technologies offer the opportunity to adhere to the Industry 4.0 Plan, to create fully automated Industry 4.0 warehouses, saving a dairy up to 64,000 euros in costs each year.

Among the most important innovations in aging warehouses are automatic machines, which have become a crucial element for optimizing production processes, guaranteeing product traceability and improving operator safety.

In this article, we will examine the reasons that lead companies to consider the implementation of such machinery, highlighting the numerous benefits deriving from this choice.

Increasing operational efficiency in maturing warehouses and reducing costs

Based on a recent survey, warehouses that have implemented automation are 76% more likely to increase efficiency than those that have not.

To optimize operational efficiency and contain costs, it is essential to monitor key processes such as cleaning, turning, loading, unloading, and quality control of cheese wheels.

The introduction of automatic machinery, designed to perform these operations directly on the racks, with cheese wheels 49 cm in diameter and weighing 50 kg, represents an innovative but also logical solution that brings a series of tangible benefits to dairy companies.

First, it significantly reduces the time required for the processing necessary for proper aging of the product, significantly raising overall productivity levels.

Automating this crucial process not only optimizes time but also helps reduce operator errors, ensuring unprecedented precision in the results obtained.

Despite the fact that the initial investment for the purchase and implementation of automatic machinery 4.0 is higher than for traditional machinery, it is essential to consider this step as a long-term investment.

Over time, these systems have been shown to reduce operating costs, which for 12% of companies are a factor that threatens their profitability, these systems contribute to improving overall efficiency, optimizing the use of corporate resources and materials.

Improving quality through innovative 4.0 automated machines

Maturing Warehouses-Industry 4.0 automatic machines

4.0 Automatic machines in maturing warehouses guarantees optimal control of the cheese ripening phases, from cleaning and turning to the product’s exit from the warehouse.

During the cleaning and turning phases, these devices perform these processes with speed and precision, eliminating bacteria and promoting optimal cheese ripening. This helps prevent the formation of cracks and defects, keeping the wheels intact.

In the flambéing phase, the machines perform a controlled and uniform operation. This process efficiently removes surface impurities, ensuring maximum safety in the work environment thanks to the elimination of open flames.

An additional process that can be significantly improved is expertise. Traditionally, the wheel is struck with a hammer by an expert beater, who, through a careful ear, identifies any internal defects that could compromise the quality of the product.

However, today it is possible to optimize this process by integrating Rx technology and 3D scanning via CT, guaranteeing total safety for the operators.

This innovative approach allows the expertise phase to be performed without any material removal, fully preserving the quality and characteristics of the product.

Thanks to this methodology, defects that are otherwise difficult to identify become visible and quantifiable. In addition, it is possible to detect the presence of foreign bodies such as metals or plastics without the need for metal detectors.

A further advantage is the creation of a 3D image that objectively highlights the internal imperfections of the product, eliminating the uncertainties associated with the interpretation of two-dimensional images.

This advanced expertise process takes only 30 seconds to examine the entire volume of the product, allowing for a complete and rapid evaluation.

Increased safety in maturing warehouses

Maturing Warehouses-Industry 4.0 automatic machines

According to INAIL statistics, there were 703,432 workplace accidents in Italy during 2022. This represents a significant increase of approximately 139,000 cases compared to the previous year, corresponding to a 24.6% rise.

To address this concerning trend, the use of automatic machinery is emerging as an effective solution to substantially reduce risks in work environments, especially for activities such as lifting extremely heavy loads.

Benefits of automatic machinery

  • Reduced risk of accidents: Automatic machines are designed to perform specific and repetitive tasks with precision, minimizing the risk of human error and accidents.

  • Improved safety standards: Automatic machinery incorporates safety features such as guards, sensors, and interlocks to protect operators from hazards.

  • Reduced physical strain: Automatic machines can handle heavy lifting and other strenuous tasks, reducing the physical strain on workers and preventing musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Enhanced focus on value-added activities: By automating repetitive tasks, workers can focus on higher-value activities that require their skills and judgment, improving overall efficiency and productivity.

  • Skills development: Workers can be trained to manage and monitor the machines, focusing on the safety, effectiveness, and operability of the machines. This approach not only limits workers’ exposure to potential risks but also allows them to develop specialized skills in controlling and maintaining automatic machinery.

Traceability and Visibility of products through integration of 4.0 automatic machines with the WMS

According to Nucleus Research, a leading American research and consulting firm specializing in ROI (Return on Investment) analysis, implementing a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and automation can lead to a significant improvement in the accuracy of warehouse operations, with a 20% increase.

The machines are connected to an accessible and intelligent WMS software designed to efficiently manage and coordinate all activities in the cheese aging warehouse. This WMS system provides real-time mapping of the warehouse, optimizing available space by 10-20%, and automatically assigning specific tasks based on product properties such as aging phase, classification, and expertise.

In addition, the WMS ensures detailed traceability for each batch of dairy products in the warehouse. This is essential for accurately monitoring product movement, ensuring regulatory compliance, and meeting traceability requests.

Real-time inventory visibility enables more accurate order management, reducing shipping times and product preparation times.

Maturing Warehouses-Industry 4.0 automatic machines

Benefits of Integrating 4.0 automatic machines into maturing warehouses

Integrating 4.0 automatic machines into maturing warehouses offers significant benefits.

  • Increased productivity: Automation can increase productivity by up to 50% by automating repetitive tasks and reducing manual labor.

  • Reduced errors: Automatic machinery can perform tasks with greater precision and consistency than humans, leading to a reduction in errors and defects.

  • Improved product quality: Automation can help to ensure consistent product quality by controlling environmental conditions and automating handling processes.

  • Enhanced worker safety: Automation can reduce the risk of workplace accidents by eliminating the need for workers to perform hazardous tasks, such as lifting heavy weights or working with sharp tools.

  • Improved inventory management: Advanced traceability and real-time visibility of cheese wheels can improve warehouse management, reducing operational costs and minimizing shipping errors.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 875946