Congelados de Navarra at the forefront of cold storage solutions

A benchmark logistics center in the food industry due to its innovative and intelligent automation systems

Video transcription

Congelados de Navarra, a leading European producer and marketer of deep-frozen vegetables, has experienced unabated growth since its inception, resulting in the brand’s expansion in over 70 countries.

With an annual production of 250,000 tonnes, Congelados de Navarra has prioritised innovation through new technologies to meet market demands and satisfy its customers.

Well aware of the importance of warehousing, Congelados de Navarra turned to Mecalux, which outfitted the company’s logistics centres with the most efficient technology solutions to meet its needs.

We’ve been working with Mecalux since our company was founded in 1998. Mecalux assembled our first storage systems in Arguedas (Spain), and we’ve continued to rely on them through the years. So, naturally, we decided to partner with Mecalux on this new project as well.

Julián Arnedo Dispatch Dept. Manager

The logistics centre in Fustiñana, Spain, began with the implementation of the first two phases, in which Mecalux installed two automated clad-rack warehouses with a total capacity of 63,000 pallets. These two facilities feature twin-mast stacker cranes that work at a constant temperature of -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

In 2017, following phases 1 and 2, the third phase was implemented: the packaging and mixing area.

In 2019, phase 4 was added to the logistics centre: one of Europe’s largest automated freezer warehouses.

With a capacity of over 83,000 pallets, it is equipped with the automated Pallet Shuttle system with transfer cars and operates at a temperature of -25 degrees.

In 2022, Congelados de Navarra continues to grow hand in hand with Mecalux in a fifth phase: it has built an automated warehouse with double-deep stacker cranes operating at -25 degrees, rounding out this logistics centre.

Easy WMS software from Mecalux controls this logistics centre from top to bottom, providing total traceability of all products stored.

In the first phase, Mecalux built a 36-metre-tall automated warehouse with 6 stacker cranes and capacity for 27,000 pallets.

In the second phase, a warehouse with similar characteristics was incorporated, featuring 8 stacker cranes and a higher capacity: 36,000 pallets.

The two facilities are connected to each other and work as one, coordinating pallet entries and exits with the Mecalux software. The warehouses, connected to the production plant, provide high flows of goods and increased productivity.

In the third phase, Mecalux expanded Congelados de Navarra’s centre with a packaging and mixing area next to the first automated warehouse, where it installed stainless steel conveyors and transfer cars. Highly resistant to corrosion, they are ideal for working in humid environments and comply with health regulations for food industry facilities.

We installed this cold storage warehouse because Congelados de Navarra’s storage needs have grown in recent years, and we needed to double our storage space.

Julián Arnedo Dispatch Dept. Manager

With that objective in mind, phase 4 increased flows of goods and automated processes, optimising storage space. To achieve this, Mecalux built a warehouse measuring 44 metres tall, 68 metres wide and 170 metres long. An automated solution comprising high-density racking with the Pallet Shuttle system and transfer cars that maximises capacity and ensures a high flow of goods with simultaneous entries and exits.

With capacity for more than 83,000 pallets, the warehouse has 14 levels and 3 aisles in which 42 transfer cars operate.

The lifts installed on the ends of the automated warehouse transport the pallets vertically to the different levels of the storage system.

Each transfer car moves horizontally within the structure to reach the channel assigned by the Easy WMS software, where the motorised shuttle stores or retrieves the pallet.

The automated Pallet Shuttle system from Mecalux has optimised the storage space and significantly increased the number of pallet cycles per hour. In addition, the goods are fully available, and errors due to manual handling have been eliminated.

Phase 5 consisted of setting up an automated warehouse similar to those built in phases 1 and 2, with capacity for over 15,000 pallets. It is located next to the first two warehouses, with the three functioning as a single entity.

This logistics centre is made up of 4 automated rack-supported warehouses with a total capacity of more than 160,000 pallets, with anterooms, dispatch zones and a product packaging and mixing area. It also features several lines of electrified monorails measuring 600 metres long and with 72 trolleys to connect all areas of the centre.

A large logistics centre in which all zones are perfectly linked, thanks to Easy WMS warehouse management software from Mecalux.

The warehouses are also connected to the production areas. Thus, when the product is finished, it is moved by means of lifts to the upper floor to be deposited in the storage area indicated by the software.

If the products are sent by external suppliers, they enter the facility on the ground floor. This floor is also home to the dispatch zone, where loading and unloading are managed and around 100 lorries a day are dispatched.

Meanwhile, at the conveyors in front of the third warehouse, goods can be moved to other warehouses or directly to dispatch. This area also has an anteroom and transfer cars charged with moving the pallets to the loading docks. At the conveyors at the back of this warehouse, outbound goods are sent to the packaging and mixing area.

Congelados de Navarra’s logistics centre has capacity for more than 160,000 pallets in over one million cubic metres, continuous movements of goods, and automated solutions including: 18 stacker cranes, 53 transfer cars, an automated Pallet Shuttle system with 42 motorised shuttles, 20 lifts, 4 lines of interconnected electrified monorails with 72 trolleys, and hundreds of metres of conveyors. Easy WMS software from Mecalux is the core element that simultaneously manages all the parts that make up Congelados de Navarra’s enormous logistics centre.

The WMS from Mecalux enables full traceability of production batches, from the time of their entry to their dispatch.

Easy WMS is also connected to Congelados de Navarra’s ERP system and MES to coordinate pallets and batches arriving from production.

This software is the brain of the facility, with the ability to simultaneously manage all areas and the four automated warehouses as if they were one.

Easy WMS has the ability to control in parallel the receipt of goods, shipments to customers, products arriving at the packaging area, and the incoming, outgoing and relocation orders in the different warehouses.

In the phase 4 warehouse with the Pallet Shuttle system, Easy WMS from Mecalux manages different processes such as storage and shared channel operations.

For storage in the central warehousing units, when the software assigns a channel to a production batch, the pallets are inserted in the channel one by one until it is full. At the same time, the software allocates another production batch to a different channel, which is filled in the same way. Easy WMS reserves the locations on the ends of the storage system for smaller batches and peaks in production.

The shared channel of variable depth corresponds to an operation designed by Mecalux’s team of expert engineers to meet Congelados de Navarra’s needs and enable it to cope with the high demand for its products. For this operation, Mecalux installed one aisle on both sides of the channel on each of the 14 levels, achieving an occupancy rate of over 92%.

The shared channel with variable depth operation consists of storing two different SKUs in the same channel. The quantity of pallets per each SKU can be defined automatically by the Easy WMS software based on a time variable, or manually by the logistics manager at any time.

The warehouse manager can also assign a preset time value for the software to automatically manage the quantity of each of the two SKUs to be stored.

When inserting pallets into the channel, if the predefined time is exceeded, Easy WMS will consider that SKU stored, opening up the channel to another SKU.

Alternatively, the logistics manager can close the storage of a SKU at any given time, freeing up the rest of the locations in the channel to house another SKU.

This functionality gives users autonomy to cover unforeseen situations that might arise in the facility.

Whether the channel partition is performed automatically or manually, once all the pallets of both SKUs have been dispatched, the number of pallets per SKU is reset. This leaves the entire channel open again as a single channel.

For any shared channel, whether of predefined or variable depth, Easy WMS directs each SKU to be removed from its side of the channel.

Additionally, the logistics manager can predefine a series of rules — configurable and updatable at any time — that Easy WMS will use to store the goods in the most compact way possible.

Following this premise, the software manages the continuous compacting of SKUs to optimise the level of occupancy and the movements of the goods in line with inflow and outflow forecasts.

This compacting can be done on the same level, on another level of the storage system, or in other warehouses of the logistics centre.

With the help of Mecalux, Congelados de Navarra has overhauled its supply chain with a modern, highly automated facility. A benchmark logistics centre in the food industry due to its innovative and intelligent automation systems. At the forefront of cold storage solutions, thanks to the comprehensive management of Easy WMS software from Mecalux.