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Autotech Controls has helped distiller Chivas Brothers carry out a multi-million-pound upgrade of conveying, palletising, shrink wrapping, storage and dispatch systems at its Kilmalid bottling plant.

Chivas Brothers recently decided to invest in a multi-million-pound refurbishment of its conveying, palletising, shrink wrapping, storage and dispatch systems at Kilmalid.

In a three-year upgrade programme – undertaken in four phases, each tendered for separately – Chivas Brothers required its 25-year-old equipment to be replaced by equally reliable and robust systems, yet without any disruption to its processing of orders.

Autotech Controls worked with the handling systems contractor Excel Automation to supply the control systems for each of the four contracts.

Phase one comprised the refurbishment of eight automatic stacker cranes.

The control system specified for the cranes included the latest generation of intelligent Rockwell AC drive system with full closed-loop control via laser positioning devices on the horizontal and vertical movements.

This technology eliminates the need for on-board PLC controllers, provides improved functionality and has increased the throughput of the warehouse for Chivas Brothers.

The project also included the fitting of two-man manual drive cabs, equipped with HMIs (human/machine interfaces), to facilitate stock checking within the high-bay stores.

The second phase of the upgrade programme involved replacing the seven existing shrink-wrapping machines with two high-speed wrappers and replacing the warehouse infeed pallet conveyors.

Phase three involved replacing seven palletisers with eight new ones and replacing case conveyors from the production hall to the palletisers.

The final phase saw the twelve dispatch lanes that fed old clamp-type pallet exchangers replaced with an improved pallet-exchange system, including laser-guided AGVs (automated guided vehicles).

Autotech’s scope of supply included all the control systems for the carton conveyors, pallet conveyors, palletisers and stacker cranes.

The company’s control solutions – combined with careful planning and project management by the Chivas Brothers, Excel and Autotech teams – allowed order processing at Kilmalid to be maintained seamlessly throughout the upgrade programme and resulted in an increase in throughput at the site.

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