Charter Next Generation: Automated warehousing for a large variety of products

Charter Next Generation: Automated warehousing for a large variety of products

Top capacity at Charter Next Generation with pallet conveyors and 140 m long aisles


Interlake Mecalux has built a new automated warehouse for Charter Next Generation with a storage capacity for more than 15,400 pallets of different sizes and turnovers. The installation is managed by the efficient Easy WMS warehouse management system by Mecalux, capable of maximising the productivity of all operations being performed.

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About Charter Next Generation

Founded in Ohio (USA) in 1994 under the direction of David A. Frecka, Charter Next Generation is a plastic films business who makes product packaging for distinct industrial sectors, in particular, food products.

The company stands above the crowd because of its constant innovation in production processes, introducing the market’s most cutting-edge equipment when manufacturing high-quality products.

Needs and the solution

Charter Next Generation used to own a warehouse next to its production centre with a 3,000 pallet capacity and had other leased warehouses where it accommodated all its production. Over the last few years, the enterprise has experienced huge growth and, determined to deal with this situation, required a warehousing solution for the films used in the food industry.

This new installation had to offer a large capacity, guarantee steady inflows and outflows of goods and provide very speedy operations. Moreover, for this type of warehoused product, total traceability of merchandise is essential to keep track of its status and location at all times, as well as to maintain excellent distribution, order and cleanliness. The project posed a huge challenge, due to the massive variety of different sized products and pallets Charter Next Generation operates with daily.

With these factors in mind, only an internationally recognised and experienced firm like Interlake Mecalux could construct the ideal warehouse that would efficiently fulfil Charter Next Generation’ requisites.

After an in-depth study, Interlake Mecalux proposed the construction of an 11.9 m high automated warehouse inside the Charter Next Generation premises. It comprises six aisles with double-depth pallet racks on both sides, whose storage capacity exceeds 15,400 pallets.

Jason Hildebrand - Director of Logistics at Charter Next Generation
"The automation is extremely efficient, the warehouse runs 24/7. And, it helps us cut logistics costs by improving order preparation."


The automated warehouse

Initially, the warehouse was only going to have five automatic stacker cranes. However, considering the growth rate of Charter Next Generation and its prospects, it opted for one more aisle and installed six stacker cranes in all.

SKUs are deposited in the corresponding locations based on turnover (consumer products are placed in the front of the warehouse and those in less demand, at the rear). This layout optimises the movements of the handling equipment and boosts the number of cycles.

The stacker cranes in each aisle ensure a constant flow of products without operator involvement, eliminating any logistical errors due to manual management. Their job is to shift the goods between the racks and the inbound and outbound ­conveyors.

These machines operate at a travel speed of 180 m/min and 38 m/min when elevated. They include double-depth telescopic forks able to reach the second pallet position on all levels.

Warehouse inputs

A full pallet conveyor circuit located on one side of the racks is entrusted with the automatic entry and exit of the goods.

The company works with pallets of different sizes and qualities. For this reason, 1,000 x 1,220 mm slave pallets are employed, to assure load strength and stability both on the conveyor circuits and inside the warehouse. Input stations are equipped with an empty pallet dispenser.

Operators use counterbalanced forklifts to place the load on top of the slave pallet. Next, pallets go through the checkpoint where their characteristics are verified, and it is checked whether they meet the established warehouse parameters. Those that do not pass inspection are ejected from the circuit to be reconditioned.

Once the checkpoint approves the pallet, the Easy WMS by Mecalux assigns it a location within the installation, according to its turnover and size.

Warehouse outputs

When a customer requests a product, the Mecalux software orders its extraction from the racks. The stacker crane in the aisle where it is located collects the item and deposits it on the output conveyor, which connects to the primary circuit and runs to the dispatch area.

A transfer car classifies the pallets into eight preload channels capable of housing up to seven pallets each. This system groups pallets together from the same order or route to streamline its loading into distribution lorries. Along with the eight preload channels, two more channels with empty pallet stackers are installed whose task is to retrieve the slave pallets.

Easy WMS and Galileo

Interlake Mecalux has also implemented the Easy WMS. This software organises all the functions being performed, including receptions, assigning locations and the storing of pallets according to turnover; extraction, picking and final issuing.

Easy WMS provides full view visualisation of the products as they move through the system. Operators can oversee the entire process off a 100 cm screen set up specifically for this purpose.

The WMS is in permanent communication with the company’s ERP in order to coordinate and increase the throughput of the various operations that are run in the warehouse. Since this involves an automated warehouse, the Galileo control module was also implemented, in charge of monitoring the moving devices (stacker cranes, conveyors and transfer cars), as well as fulfilling safety measures.

Advantages for Charter Next Generation

  • Increased warehousing capacity: the automated warehouse offers a storage capacity that exceeds 15,400 pallets of different measurements and turnovers.
  • High productivity: the automated installation guarantees fast and efficient service, all without possible errors.
  • Top management: the warehouse is controlled by the Easy WMS warehouse management system by Mecalux that optimises all movements, processes and operations which occur there.
Automated warehouse for Charter Next Generation
Storage capacity: +15,400 pallets
Pallet size: 1,000 x 1,220 mm 
(loads up to 1,067 x 1,524 mm)
Warehouse height: 11.9 m
Warehouse length: 140 m
No. of storage aisles: 6

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