Appetite goes alongside innovation

11.02.2014

At Pasta ZARA great emphasis is placed on technology: An innovation which can take into account the company's many years of tradition of optimizing the work processes and maintaining the highest level of service.

What’s cooking in the pot on the fireplace in a yurt with the cold wind Mongolian steppe blowing through? The same thing as in the pot on the hot stove plate in a hut hidden deep in the pines in a Canadian forest: Good semolina noodles made from 100% durum wheat in Italy.

Is it the secret of globalization? No, this is based on the (logistic) capabilities of a company to ship Italian delicacies even to the most remote corners of the earth, where they can be consumed according to traditional Italian recipes.

Today the fourth generation of the Bragagnolo family has taken over the tiller at Pasta ZARA, but the characteristic principles have not changed. There is also a strong affinity to the Treviso region, where the company was founded and grown its roots over the years, which has led to growth for Pasta ZARA and allowed its continuous expansion. Roots, nourished not only by tradition and experience, but also by particular attention to innovations. Innovations which have resulted in a continuously increasing range of products - to satisfy the continuously increasing demands of consumers - in a global market (110 countries on 5 continents) and an avant garde production and logistics structure.

The peak of Pasta ZARA’s productive triangle since 2002 is the production and logistics center in Muggia near Trieste (TS), further production facilities are located in Rovato (BS), where a plant was purchased in 2010 and in Riese Pio X (TV) were the headquarters were opened in 1965 as a corner stone of the modernization process introduced at that time.

Logistics is not a side dish, but rather one of the main courses.

To keep the focus primarily on the product, Pasta ZARA has never considered logistics to be simply a functional value; it has always placed its main interest on the strategic character. As early as 1994, the storage facilities in Riese were automated by adding an automatic packaging and palleting system and introducing driverless conveying to achieve the double objective of making products completely retraceable and offering high level customer service.

This distinguishing increase in complexity in a continuously growing and developing market and the rapid growth in volume - today Pasta ZARA has a production capacity of over 1,500 tons per day and an export quota of 92% - have prompted the noodle manufacturer from the Treviso region to rethink its own supply chain, starting from Riese, the historical location and pulsating heart of the entire logistics and production network. In 2009, Pasta ZARA initiated an internal analysis in order to find out what and in which area the actual needs of the company were to be found. In this way, it was possible to define the objectives for an optimization and find a solution for achieving this in an efficient manner.

"We have reinforced our trust in automation in order to be able to operate quickly and safely, to optimize storage areas and to make good use of the human resources at our disposal"

explained Umberto Bragagnolo, Vice-President of Pasta ZARA.

“...and in this way to be able to carry on down our company's traditional pathway, which has always been strongly oriented towards innovation. Having taken this decision, we have eventually turned to Stöcklin Logistik, which has drawn-up for us a tailor-made automation plan to meet the specific requirements of our noodle manufacture in Veneto."

The recipe for the correct automation

In 2010 construction of the new plant was started, by the end of 2012 the new storage facility was completely operative: “The new warehouse”, emphasized Bragagnolo,

“includes the entire technology and experience, we have collected and developed over the course of time. We place great value on participating directly in planning the technology for our logistics as well as our production processes. We believe in teamwork and the necessity of proceeding systematically by sharing our experience with partners and suppliers and including our employees in our plans for change and optimization at all levels. The contribution of every individual is valuable, because theories worked out on the basis of analyses and data can only be confirmed by the opinions of those involved with the daily procedures. With Stöcklin we have found a partner who is ready to respond to our requirements and share our approach.

The result of this is a fully automated warehouse, with a total area of 5,000 m², with 9 levels and offering a storage capacity for 24,150 pallets. This includes an installation with the 8 automatically controlled stacker cranes, which move load units with a weight of up to 1,250 kg. The finished goods are distributed on racks with differing heights. In this way, the available space is further optimized for storage.

How does such a large installation fit in with the supply chain of the platform in Riese? The finished products are packed by a robotic system onto pallets at the end of the production line. From there, a LGV (Laser Guided Vehicle) fleet ensures that the goods are transported to the entry point of the automated warehouse. As part of this process each pallet is filmed in such a way that all load units that are brought into the warehouse are identified by a print-out of the EAN128 label to create uniformity. Individual pallets pass through a checking point via a conveyor system in order to inspect their profile, weight, shape and labeling. Finally the pallets arrive via a lift at a transfer level and are then taken to an automated floor railroad system with individually powered transportation trolleys, which guide them on to the transfer conveyors of the stacker cranes.

The storage strategy is defined by the warehouse management system (LVS) – based on specific storage rotation principles for the individual products – and follows the logic of the distribution of the stock of each single reference number in several warehouse aisles. In this way, there is always a product available, should at any time any deviations occur.

The orders issued by Pasta ZARA’s order department generate a series of retrieval orders for each of the 8 automatic stacker cranes operating in the warehouse to move the retrieved pallets to the exit area (up to 300 pallets per hour). The system circuit with 25 motorized iEMS model conveying cars (double rail floor tracks), moving along the sides of the warehouse, transports and distributes the goods automatically on 12 double output conveyors, located opposite the 12 truck loading and shipping ramps on the Riese logistics platform. The goods are transferred from the automatic system’s output conveyors to the waiting overland trucks with the aid of electric hand pallet trucks. Bar code identification systems check each load unit automatically on each ramp as it is transfered to the overland truck.

The high-bay warehouse supplied by Stöcklin Logistik AG works 24 hours per day for the storage of goods coming from production and the removal of goods towards the loading ramps. By this means the work of Pasta ZARA's own employees, working a 10-hour shift per day in the shipping department, is prepared in advance, so they can dispatch up to 10 large semi-trailer trucks per hour. “This system expansion”, continued Umberto Bragagnolo,

"has enabled us to optimize the storage areas and we have thereby rationalized the product rotation. We can now work 24 hours per day and thus control the material flow coming from production and the peak values related to this which are called for by an extremely complex market. The market in which we operate is so wide that, as far as we are concerned, there is no seasonal requirement and we therefore are permanently working with huge volumes. In addition to time and cost optimization in the different work processes, the new warehouse has enabled us even to improve the safety in the warehouse itself and to make good and efficient use of the personnel resources that are employed. Currently the warehouse has an average saturation level of 50-55%. It has been designed in such a way that it can cater to the next growth rates."

There are no shadowy areas in our complete supply chain: All of our raw materials can be traced back completely all the way to shipping, without leaving out even the primary packaging with which the product made contact..

We are accustomed to operating in other countries, are continuously involved with very stringent regulations and frequently even anticipate some regulations. However, we believe it is necessary to achieve maximum participation to ensure effective safety and reliability. This is why we are always prepared to share our specific knowhow: Our network operates on GS1 and for years we have been active in codification projects to achieve more uniform codification. Our goal is “universal” labeling. Since 2004 we have also been a member of the Italian Table of Indicod ECR”.

The opinion of the planner

The automated facilities planned for pasta producer ZARA in Riese, represent the state-of-the-art for logistics technology in the noodle field”, confirmed Engineer Paolo Cis, Business Manager at Stocklin Logistica S.r.l., Italia, “because it utilizes innovative solutions for the palleting, storage and shipping processes, to guarantee complete product traceability and identification in all of its logistic phases.

A peculiarity is, for example, that automatic BCR read gates, intended especially for this purpose, have been installed on all loading ramps to ensure correct loading of the truck/container.

Stöcklin’s warehouse management system was used to achieve the necessary high performance requirements. This system is optimally designed for control of the pallet conveying system, the automatic stacker cranes and the iEMS model motorized transport trucks. This was simulated previously during the planning phase with the aid of the AUTOMODE software.” continued Cis.

This solution was realized in its entirety in cooperation with the customer and various involved technology partners to fulfill all required logistic requirements in every regard.

The Swiss Stöcklin Group has offered innovative logistic solutions at the global level since 1934, as supplier for turn-key intralogistics systems, as well as supplementary automatic systems for storage and transport of goods.” stated Paolo Cis, Business Manager at Stocklin Logistica S.r.l., Italia.

Logistics with a taste of ecological sustainability

To limit the use of paper and its negative effects for the environment, Pasta ZARA does not use conventional paper labels for logistics purposes. Labels printed directly onto the packaging box itself with a special resin are used for identification.

Moreover the Pasta ZARA plants are all equipped with a system for secondary energy recovery and photovoltaic systems, making the structures independent in terms of energy, because they are powered by “green” energy. "We have also supplement the production department with a new system for drying the finished products, which, with the aid of avant garde technology provides significant times savings, and use of less heat, resulting in lower energy costs.”

And what do you have cooking in the pot for the future?

“Riese was the training grounds for developing our requirements for suitable technology”, reported Bragagnolo, smiling, “the results achieved have given us the courage for further investments, in the belief, that logistics will play a key role along our path to growth. Not only do we intend to continue to strengthen our production by installing additional production lines for short types of noodles with a capacity of 12,000 kg/h - to date the world’s largest production line of this type, capable of filling an entire truck within one hour!  - we are also planning an new automated high bay warehouse with space for 66,000 pallets at our location in Muggia/Trieste. The plant in Trieste has a central role in the development process of our company: Thanks to its multimodal connection - highway, sea and railroad - it is possible for us to reach the markets in Eastern Europe more quickly and place greater emphasis on intermodularity.

Within the last 15 years our pasta producer has tripled its turnover and production. I am convinced that these results can be achieved only with passion, experience and the will power to continuously improve your own performance. With the aid of state-of-the-art technologies and a belief in all those working at our side; a recipe with a truly unique flavor.” laughed Umberto Bragagnolo.

© Il Giornale della Logistica, No.9/2013