By early June, Goplasticpallets.com had delivered a massive 24,750 plastic pallet boxes to GA Pet Food Partners for use in its £80m Ingredients Kitchen – a new, fully automated dark store warehouse operated solely by robots.
GA’s new Ingredients Kitchen sees the culmination of industry leading science, automation, expertise and testing, as well as storing and blending, come together to deliver the world’s finest dry pet food ingredients. The considerable investment ensures that the provenance and traceability of all recipes produced at the facility is guaranteed.
GA Pet Food Partners first approached Goplasticpallets.com four years ago looking for a large container suitable for automated handling and storing bulk dry pet food ingredients. After considerable time consulting with GA discussing exactly how the containers would be used, Goplasticpallets.com recommended its largest plastic pallet box – the GoPalletBox 1311S 3R measuring 1300mm x 1150mm x 1250mm and offering a whopping 1400 litre storage capacity.
After sampling the plastic pallet box, GA ordered 19,750 units in three different colours with lids – red, green and blue each for handling different processes – and have not looked back since. In fact, GA was so pleased with the performance of the boxes they recently ordered a further 5,000 units for an additional new warehouse.
Jim Whittingham, Operations Director for GA Pet Food Partners, said: “This investment has seen us work with several highly skilled organisations from around the world, Goplasticpallets.com being one of them. From our initial enquiry, right through to our final delivery, the whole Go Plastic team has been extremely helpful and attentive – keeping us updated on the status of all deliveries. Now the boxes are operational, we couldn’t be happier with their performance.”
Plastic pallet boxes in automation
So how are the plastic pallet boxes being used? It’s an incredible process.
The dry bulk ingredients – including rice, wheat and barley – first enters the Ingredients Kitchen at Bulk Intake where automated sampling takes place. All of the ingredients are fully traceable from source; no ingredients enter the Ingredients Kitchen without 48 hours of testing in GA’s on-site labs.
In the Pantry the storage of bulk ingredients is managed in a controlled environment. Efficient stock planning and rotation ensures that all ingredients maintains optimum freshness.
GA has deployed two types of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) nicknamed Henry and Arthur to assist in moving ingredients on site. Weighing in at 1.5 tonnes, Henry transports containers to and from the Pantry to the Pick and Mix area travelling at 2m/s. Arthur, at 2.5 tonnes, covers 1.8 m/s transferring containers between the cellar and the station in preparation for extrusion.
After passing through extrusion the finished products are taken back to the Ingredients Kitchen on an AGV Mule. Once the Mule docks, the finished containers are taken to the Larder for storage with each containing 650-800kg of pet food ready for packing. It is a highly responsive and controlled environment that can handle around 78 box movements per hour!