Australia’s biggest wine rack

Dematic Pty Ltd
Thursday, 05 November, 2009

Incorporating bottling and case packing lines, the new 14,500 pallet capacity DC enables 14 degrees to offer significant supply chain benefits and savings to the Australian wine industry. Customers include award-winning wineries such as Yering Station, Mt Langi Ghiran, Parker Coonawarra Estate and Xanadu.

14 degrees, which is owned by the Rathbone family, is also using the facility to expand its 3PL services to other wine producers and distributors, retailers, restaurants and hotel groups.

Near completion, the mixed-use development will offer a combination of commercial office space, function/meeting rooms, a retail outlet and a restaurant.

“The first task was finding a central location that would enable us to cost-effectively fulfil orders to just about anywhere in Australia, as well as streamline export procedures,” said 14 degrees Director Darren Rathbone.

“Port Melbourne, with its great port, road and rail connections, fitted the bill perfectly. We then worked closely with our storage partner Dematic to optimise the DC layout and workflow procedures.

“Dematic did a lot of work up front, analysing our current and future business needs, and presented a range of options, with their recommendation being an innovative Pallet Runner satellite storage system.”

Dematic was installing the first Pallet Runner system in Australia for Murray Goulburn in Melbourne at the time and Darren Rathbone was impressed by what he saw.

“Dematic’s Pallet Runner system is an ideal solution for storing premium quality wine,” said Rathbone.

“After a premium quality wine has been bottled, the less it is handled the better.

“With the Pallet Runner system, we can space-efficiently store pallets more than 30 deep in a single lane. That lets us park a whole vintage of a wine in just one or two lanes within the storage system and forget about it until it is due for release.”

Taking full advantage of the building’s 14 m height, Dematic’s high-density Pallet Runner satellite storage system provides capacity for more than 13,000 pallets. Self-propelled ‘intelligent’ carts operate automatically and independently on rails within the storage system. This lets 14 degrees’ forklift operators focus on bringing product to and from the racking, enhancing productivity and safety and reducing the potential for product damage.

When pallets are to be put away, the forklift operator first loads the motorised Pallet Runner into the relevant put-away lane, then loads the pallet into the lane. Upon receipt of the put-away instruction, the motorised cart drives under the pallet. A hydraulic lifting platform then raises the pallet and transports it to the required put-away location within the lane.

By the time the forklift operator has placed the next pallet to be put away in the storage system, the motorised cart is ready to begin its next cycle.

Pallets are scanned as they are fed into the storage system and scanned again when they are retrieved, providing real-time location ID and full traceability. All product movements are RF-directed, with stock, location and order data managed by wine industry IT system, Vinpoint.

“The Pallet Runner not only gives us the best possible use of space, it is also a valuable resource for staging orders,” added Rathbone.

“When we have large orders to ship, we can pick all of the pallets ahead of time and stage them within a couple of lanes in the Pallet Runner system. When it comes time to ship, we can simply pull the pallets out and load them straight onto the transport.”

Dematic’s flexible storage design for 14 degrees also provides efficient storage solutions for wines cellared in smaller pallet quantities including Selective, Double Deep and Drive-In Colby racking.

“As our business grew, managing our supply chain became much more complex,” said Rathbone.

“We had stock scattered all across the country at multiple locations. This required a lot of effort to keep track of, and move around, when it was needed elsewhere.

“Consolidating the bulk of our stock in a purpose-designed, climate-controlled environment not only optimises the long-term quality of our wines, it has enabled us to significantly improve supply chain and transport efficiency.”

Another supply chain initiative was the decision to include 14 degrees’ wine bottling and packaging facility in the DC.

“We can now tanker premium wine in bulk here, bottle and put it straight into storage, which provides a lot of supply chain, quality and cost benefits compared to bottling at the source and transporting finished goods,” he said.

“With our new DC, we have integrated our supply chain to the point that we can receive wine, bottle it and take it across the road to the Port of Melbourne for export orders faster than anyone else in the wine industry, which is a big boost for our customers’ export business.

“Whether it’s bottling, short to long-term storage, pick, pack, delivery or export, the flexibility our DC provides gives us the ability to cost-effectively process orders from full container loads down to a single bottle,” he said.

“The Australian wine drinker’s palette has matured a lot over the past 20 years. So, despite the financial gloom and doom, we believe the growth potential for premium Australian wine is still very strong,” Rathbone said.

“Building a facility like this is a significant investment; however, we see it as a long-term investment in the Australian wine industry. Premium wines need to be carefully cellared to be at their best when they are eventually opened,” he said.

“With today’s changing demographics, most people don’t have the space for a dedicated cellar at home. Sadly, too many bottles of great wine get left for years on a rack in the living room, where the temperature is constantly changing. You can’t expect wines stored like this to be as good as they would be, had they been cellared properly.”

He added: “That’s one of the reasons increasing numbers of wine producers are holding back and cellaring a larger proportion of their premium wines. Our new DC and integrated supply chain strategy will help make sure that when someone drinks one of our customers’ wines in years to come, it will be at its very best.”

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