Collaborative effort to rectify a catastrophe


The end of 2015 heavy storms had devastated wide areas in many regions of Italy. The production and logistics facilities of Pasta Rummo in Benevento in the Campania region were also affected. A team of experts put together by the company itself under the auspices of Stöcklin Logistik AG succeeded in completely renovating the heavily damaged, automated high bay warehouse and getting it back into operation within a period of only six months.

Anyone who savors high quality pasta loves Rummo. This brand, known far beyond the borders of Italy for its delicious flavor, is a creation of the “Master of Pasta since 1846”. At the company headquarters of Rummo S.p.A. in Benevento, Italy, modern spirits contrast with tradition and experience going back more than 170 years in creating tasty pasta variations. These are produced using a special method known as Lenta Lavorazione® (slow processing). The proteins contained in the wheat are preserved in their entirety, producing pasta capable of being served al dente even when you don’t always watch the clock precisely while cooking.

Company infrastructures completely destroyed

The delivery chain was interrupted abruptly the middle of October 2015. This was the result of severe storms in many regions of Italy, wreaking heavy damage. Benevento and thus Rummo were devastated by flooded building, mud slides and fallen trees. The entire production facilities as well as the fully automatic high bay warehouse together with adjoining handling and shipping buildings were filled with water, mud and debris up to four meters high. 

The high bay warehouse, which was involved disastrously, was put into operation in 2006, and equipped completely with storage and conveying equipment from Stöcklin Logistik. Four, 34 meter high, MASTer 32 model stacker cranes move over a length of 120 meters in the storage facility. The pallet transport equipment is equipped with 150 drives, sensors, scanners, cars and profile checking stations. All controls have a hardware safety circuit with EMERGENCY STOP feature. Moreover the intralogistics provider and general contractor from Dornach, Switzerland divided the entire system up into functional switch-on groups with plug-in sockets for HMI panels (HMI = Human-Machine Interface) which serve for analysis and operation of the system in the service mode. The implemented Warehouse Management System (WMS) came from our warehouse management partner.

Development of solution concept parallel to damage assessment

The extent of the damage was enormous, even though 20,000 of the 30,000 pallets with finished goods were stored above the floodwater level. However it was no longer possible to reach these storage locations with the stacker cranes (RBG’s). All electronic components, such as drives, control hardware and sensors were just as completely ruined as the servers, including warehouse management software and the current data set. Moreover sludge particles had infiltrated into all mechanical components and hardened to a solid mass after drying. 

Considering this background, complete renovation and repair of the system was inevitable. “Just one week after the catastrophe, we introduced a 2-phase concept”, declared André Rawyler, Manager of Special Project Services in the Systems Division at Stöcklin. “In consideration of the immense volume of the damage in the entire Rummo plant, this concept included a cost-optimized solution for disposition and replacement of elements.”

Provision of materials and resources in record time

A further challenge was short-term coordination of a team of trained specialists as well as getting the required parts and components quickly to the site of the catastrophe. André Rawyler continues:

“In spite the fact that our capacities were well filled with orders, we gave this project maximum priority, getting the materials and resources required for the initially pending renovation to the site as quickly as possible. Work usually requiring nearly five months, was realized in only one month." 

Following intensive meetings for clarification and definition of the necessary action, interfaces and deadlines, the Swiss intralogistics specialist was commissioned to complete the renovation and repair work the end of October 2015. The required preliminary work consisting of cleaning and disassembly was completed by the customer with active support by experts from Stöcklin. Nearly 100 employees were assigned to clean the mud off all system parts still usable and remove corrosion from parts which had already started to rust, such as bearings, chains, guide rollers and drives. The remaining components were treated with corrosion protection agents. It was also necessary to clean all control cabinets for the transport equipment as well as some of the stacker cranes.

Company’s ability to deliver products reinstated under difficult conditions

The benchmark for “Emergency Pack Part 1” was already reached the middle of November. This phase covered the period up to the end of December 2015. First it was necessary to provide the prerequisites for retrieving 20,000 pallets from the high bay warehouse without damage and then transport them to a safe location using a provisional conveying path with auxiliary control. For this purpose it was necessary to electromechanically restore a portion of the system leading from the four aisles to a defined retrieval point. 

Simultaneously RBG components damaged below the water level were replaced. Replacement included drives, sensors and the equipment in electric cabinets as well as moving parts such as guide rollers, wheel bearings, chains and safety elements. Here the project partners witnessed a blessing in disguise, because, at the time of the flood, only one load handling device was located below the water level. This meant it was only necessary to replace one double-depth telescopic fork, even though the costs and labor required for this were still high. 

After the Stöcklin crew consisting of mechanics, electricians, start-up specialists as well as technical specialists from our Italian partner, ComServices, had installed and tested all parts, and reloaded the warehouse management system, it was possible to successfully conclude phase 1 as early as the middle of December 2015. Under clearly difficult working conditions, such as residual moisture and provisional lighting, it was possible to present to the customer four, operational RBG’s as well as a makeshift transport equipment control within the shortest possible time. This was simultaneously the starting point for retrieval of the undamaged stock pallets, and marked the point where Rummo was again capable of starting to ship goods to customers. At the bottom line, the catastrophe had also destroyed the entire production facilities.

Herculean task mastered with dedicated cooperation

Phase 2 posed the final solution for complete restoration of the entire pallet conveying system. Parallel to the retrieval operation in progress, the system was finally put back into operation the middle of January 2016 after installation of new motors and sensors as well as replacement of conveying chains and stored moving parts. In the course of this work all control cabinets were reequipped, tested and put back into service. “On an agreed, fixed weekend, the retrieval transport equipment was ‘married’ to the remaining system now running and the CE approved, Stöcklin equipment was thus again available for the customer without limitation by the end of May 2016”, according to the Manager of Special Projects and Services at Stöcklin. 

Mario Russo, Plant Manager at Rummo S.p.A., also appeared to be satisfied with the achievement: 

“This unusual situation of mastering a crisis goes far beyond the scope of requirements placed on regular upgrading measures. This achievement is proof of the performance capabilities of the Stöcklin Company and its partners in realizing projects while maintaining agreed deadlines and costs." 

Parallel to repairing the high bay warehouse, the pasta manufacturer worked systematically on rehabilitation of the entire operating structure, allowing production of these premium products so appreciated in Italy as well as many foreign countries, to continue as of the middle of 2016.