Fully automatic transport system in the goods reception store

Zentis GmbH & Co. KG

The processing capacity of the company Zentis in Aachen, Europe’s largest fruit processing concern, amounts to several hundred tonnes per day. H+H Herrmann + Hieber is responsible for automating the transport in the goods reception area.


The production programme of the Zentis plant in Aachen is characterised by extraordinary variety; on average, the goods reception area processes around 24 semitrailer deliveries per day. For that production rate a fully automatic goods transport system had to be planned and supplied, which included all the movements between the delivery and production areas – along with the return of empty containers and packing materials. In this, it was necessary to distinguish between deep-frozen goods stored at minus 22°C (12,000 storage points) and goods to be stored dry (6,600 storage points).

The goods, delivered at ground level, are taken in, checked and transported to the warehouse on a conveyor – optionally to the deep-freeze store or the dry-goods store. At the upper level the goods required in each case, recovered from the warehouse, are unpacked, filled into portion-sized containers and sent on for further processing. Since the quality management system specifies that in this area only plastic pallets owned by the company may be used, when the goods are called for from the store for the first time they have to be re-palleted.

Two separate circuits have been installed for the empty pallets: empty wooden pallets are stored intermediately and returned to the goods reception area. Plastic pallets are collected in a separate stacker, cleaned, and brought back into the cycle at the pallet reloading station.

For the warehousing, all the data concerning the item for storage are first recorded by a scanner, and stored. The items for storage go through an automatic contour check and a weighing station. On the way into the deep-freeze store an air-lock is provided. Here, the climate conditions are particularly challenging for conveyor technology.

Items recovered from store for the first time are automatically palleted. The palleting machine is integrated in the automatic transport system. On a plastic pallet, depending on its intended destination the storage item is taken by a transverse distribution trolley to the individual working stations. Two of these transverse distribution trolleys supply a total of four rows of consignment operation and storage positions with material.

When the quantity specified in the order has been filled in, it is taken by a suspended track for further processing. Pallets that are not completely empty are returned to the store. The transverse conveyors are equipped with contour monitoring devices which automatically check for any lateral projection and the height of the load, and display any errors detected.

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