Lödige Industries designs automated catering facility for Air China

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Material handling systems supplier, Lödige Industries, has created an automated catering facility capable of 40,000 meals per day for Air China’s Southwest Air Catering service at Chengdu Tianfu International Airport.

The new system created 306 full cart and 540 bin storage spaces on just 52.7m2 of floor space and enables full control and automation of the warehouse. Lödige automated the warehouse storage area through AGV-led transportation, as well as mechanized cart and bin storage. Installation of the equipment began in August 2020 and is scheduled to finish in November 2021.

The new catering facility’s goods are received in a separate warehouse building that is equipped with a fully automated storage and retrieval system and three stacker cranes. The fully automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) loads goods through vertical stacking on 13 levels. Items are stored and retrieved without manual effort from personnel, improving accuracy and productivity while minimizing safety risks, accidents and errors. When required, items are retrieved automatically and transported through a 130m-long tunnel that connects buildings using automated guided vehicles (AGV), directed by the warehouse management system (WMS).

Once equipment or meals are ready, trays are loaded into empty trolleys or carts. Dry goods and non-food items such as cutlery are stored in bins. These are then stored until needed in Lödige ‘Space Towers’, four high-capacity cart and bin storage towers with integrated chilling as well as automatic transport, loading and unloading facilities.

This solution is the first of its kind in mainland China. In comparison with manually operated systems, the new automated solution is designed to save space, improve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs. Operators from Southwest Air Catering will utilize the system to buffer, store and convey carts and bins for its inflight catering services.

Nicholas Tripptree, managing director for Lödige Industries in Asia Pacific, said, “The fact that we have now implemented such a system in mainland China, at Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, confirms our commitment to providing our customers here with state-of-the-art materials handling technology to support their efficiency. We are very pleased that we can help our customers in achieving their goals with quality solutions from Lödige Industries.”

Lödige is also currently equipping Tianfu Airport with a fully automated ULD storage and handling system to improve the flow of international, domestic and express cargo. Two elevating transfer vehicles serving the system are the first to be delivered by the German company to mainland China.

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