The Kloosterboer Delta Terminal was to be converted from its software predecessor PMain to the current warehouse execution system Savanna.NET® by December 2020. The Dutch integrated supply chain company for frozen food products commissioned the intralogistics specialist Westfalia with this task in February 2020. Westfalia was able – despite the limitations imposed due to the Corona pandemic – to successfully complete the project within the desired time schedule.  Working remotely, Westfalia’s experienced and well-coordinated software team replaced the previous software running at the automated highbay coldstore running on 24/7 with 62,000 storage spaces in the port of Rotterdam with its current warehouse management and material flow software. The software development team conducted all tests and commissioning remotely from Westfalia’s headquarters in Borgholzhausen.

Trustworthy business partnership

“The joint achievement was possible because we have been collaborating successfully for 20 years and we know the customer’s local business operations very well,” notes Adrian Pfreundschuh, responsible Head of Product Management Software & IT at Westfalia. The system changeover was necessary because the first of the three automated Kloosterboer highbay coldstore implemented by Westfalia so far was still operating with the Savanna.NET® predecessor PMain. Cool Port 2 highbay in Rotterdam, the fourth fully automated Westfalia coldstore with 60,000 storage spaces currently being implemented, is expected to be commissioned in early 2022. Westfalia is developing the WES and manufacturing the conveyor technology as well as storage and retrieval machines including PLC control systems.

 

Pfreundschuh headed the team during the “virtual commissioning” of the Kloosterboer Delta Terminal. “We were on-site during the kick off at the end of September In light of the situation and the foreseeable travel restrictions, we sought a solution together with our customer to be able to definitely complete the project in 2020.” The commissioning team moved to the “think tank” at the Westfalia headquarters which is ideally equipped for commissioning with video conferencing and IT technology. “Initially, it was just an idea,” says Heinrich Born, Senior Project Manager Software & IT. “However, within only a brief period of time Kloosterboer installed entirely new networks in its premises to expand WLAN reception to the automated highbay coldstore and laid the foundation for extended camera systems. The staff and the warehouse with storage and retrieval areas were equipped with cameras. This allowed us to watch live on the monitors what was happening in the plant and even scan barcodes from passing pallets on our own screens.“

Digital twin for the test run

Virtual strategy tests had already been running since May. “We created a digital twin of the entire warehouse on a server and emulated the connection to the control system. All movements and strategies were tested and optimised during the process,” adds Born. From October the team performed step-by-step coupling tests to the existing material flow technology.

For three weeks, the cross-operational team prepared the remote commissioning process. From mid-October to mid-December, Westfalia’s software experts spent every second weekend switching the existing system to the new system. “We checked if the existing hardware such as conveyor technology, PLC control systems, sensors and peripheral devices were communicating correctly with the new software,” explains application developer Timo Espenschied.

Nicolas Robin, Operational Project & Implementation Manager at Kloosterboer

„We were able to keep up with the scheduled planning – that distinguishes us as an integrated supply chain partner, but also our partner Westfalia.“

Go-live in December

“At the beginning of December, we finally updated to the new software,” says Espenschied. That process was completed quite smoothly. “It turned out that the interface of an old PLC component was too slow and we had to artificially slow down the telegram rate of Savanna.NET®. It was quite complex to finally find the source of the bottleneck,” explains Senior Project Manager Reto Castagno. Since 2002, Castagno has helped conceptualise the software for every Kloosterboer system. The experience bundled at Westfalia paid off when it came to problem analysis. Software architect Stefan Behrendt who has been working for the company for 25 years developed a solution for the particular problem. “Stefan extracted the right indicators from numerous log files in an incredibly short period of time and was able to fall back on his comprehensive experience from the previous commissioning process,” says Castagno.

 

“Three supervisors and Operational Project & Implementation Manager Nicolas Robin pulled the strings at Kloosterboer together,” explains Adrian Pfreundschuh. “He has been familiar with the technology since the commissioning of the Automated highbay coldstorein Harnes in 2010. Nicolas perfectly coordinated and choreographed the entire operation. This was a key to success.” The Westfalia team shared the tasks: customer contact, system monitoring, and the typical developer work such as ad-hoc error analysis and troubleshooting with back-up provided by the entire software department. Through an agileorganisational structure, direct lines of communication based on partnership and perfect planning – and with the help of an energy drink or two – Westfalia completed the project on schedule and in line with the Corona-specific regulations. The Delta Terminal now benefits from the most updated version of Savanna.NET®. The software offers best usability and orientation, comprehensive reporting and protocol functionalities, as well as a wide range of other functionalities for the almost complete process automation.

A new chapter in the successful business partnership

For Thomas Schoch, International Sales Manager at Westfalia, this is another chapter in the long-standing successful partnership. “With our Warehouse Execution System, Kloosterboer simultaneously receives a tailored interface for its own customers to enable maximum transparency of their own logistics services. Through this commissioning, all automated Kloosterboer highbay coldstoreshave been updated to the same release. They are thus effectively networked. This way, processes that are defined for one of the warehouse systems can be implemented more quickly for all others.” 

„Savanna.NET® made it possible for us to have exactly the services that we wanted for our customers – an absolutely convincing warehouse execution system for particularly high warehouse throughput: up to 6,000 pallets pass through our storage, retrieval and picking processes in the automated highbay coldstore every day within high filling rates,” says Nicolas Robin, Operational Project & Implementation Manager at Kloosterboer. “Replacing a WCS and the virtual commissioning is unique in our company’s history. It has proven to be extremely effective under the special conditions. We were able to keep up with the scheduled planning – that distinguishes us as an integrated supply chain partner, but also our partner Westfalia.

The excellent partnership with this company has contributed to this success. That is why we have decided in favour of the experienced intralogistics specialist again and are looking forward to the next projects!”

Facts and figures: Highbay coldstore Kloosterboer Delta Terminal

  • Completed in 2003
  • 24/7 shift operation
  • Length: 140 m, width: 65 m, height: 36 m
  • 8 storage blocks, 12 levels, 4,112 storage channels
  • About 62,000 pallet storage spaces
  • 4 Satellite® storage and retrieval machines for automated storage and retrieval
  • Up to 6,000 pallets per day pass through storage, retrieval and picking processes
  • Triple support of the Euro and CHEP pallets
  • Max. pallet weight of 1,250 kg
  • Automated skid and contour control
  • Automated loading and unloading system for unit loads and pallets

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