New AGV system for deep-freeze specialist Hesbaye Frost
Alstef Group at Hesbaye Frost
- Location : Geer, Belgium
- Supply : 10 AGV CM2
- Industry : Agri-food
- Site operating since 2002, replaced in 2021
A new AGV fleet
Hesbaye Frost renews its confidence in Alstef Group to replace its entire AGV installation in operation since 2002 in its site in Geer (Belgium). As part of the project, Alstef Group proceeded to the equipment replacement and to the supervision software environment upgrading to achieve higher performance on this site operating in a deep-frozen environment.
Hesbaye Frost is a company in high-quality frozen vegetables, pasta and rice world market. Every year, 300 employees produce around 150,000 tons of products that are picked, frozen and packaged. Hesbaye Frost distributes its products to its customers throughout Europe, but also in Japan, in the United States and in Israel, whether they are industries, local authorities or even large-scale retailers.
Operating in a negative temperature of -22°, the AGVs ensure the semi-finished and finished products transfer between the different areas of the factory: end of production lines, storage, packaging and shipping area.
The new AGV fleet, composed of 10 CM2 (motorized conveyor type AGVs of new generation, which can carry simultaneously two loads of 1400 Kg) will cover the same logistic functions as before but will reach higher expected rates. As production runs in Hesbaye Frost in 3 shifts and in 24/7, the declared objective was to reduce as much as possible line infeed and outfeed times and to provide a more efficient overall system in particular by saving forklift drivers to do long distances.
An AGV solution adapted to freezer environments
These AGVs benefit from proven industrial equipment. For example, safety sensors, adapted laser sensors and specific energy management enable them to operate efficiently in freezing temperatures.
Alstef Group | BA Systèmes had already developed in 2000 an intelligent energy management system to ensure the automatic change of AGV batteries while complying with the cold chain and product preservation constraints. Indeed, a tailor-made fork stacker crane ensures the change of batteries between the refrigerated space and the positive cold space where the batteries are charged and stored. This device ensures that the AGVs do not undergo temperature changes that could alter the normal operation of the equipment. This automatic battery changing system will be maintained and kept operational with the new AGV system after a necessary software retrofit.
A new version of the supervision software system will also enable Hesbaye Frost to gain in flexibility and performance. For example, new functions will enable real-time analysis of the performance of the flows covered by the AGVs.
A 20-year collaboration
Alstef Group has been working with Hesbaye Frost since the 2000s, first in the automation and then in the maintenance of their AGV installation in Geer. Over the years, Alstef Group has been able to adapt its solution to the site and to internal processes evolutions and to make it evolve while maintaining the global performances of the system.
In addition to the reliability of the solution, these capabilities in terms of support and flexibility have convinced Hesbaye Frost to renew its confidence in Alstef Group. André Leclercq, Investments and Energy Manager at Hesbaye-Frost, confirms:
“Distance will not be a problem was and remains the reassuring slogan that Hesbaye-Frost wanted to see extended in terms of the quality of services that are expected.”
A successful deployment despite the crisis
Commissioned in spring 2021, the deployment of this project has been successfully completed despite the constraints related to the Covid-19 crisis. Alstef Group was able to size its commissioning teams in order to guarantee an optimal deployment, taking into account the sanitary rules imposed to travel, the work in extreme cold, the distance and especially the tense schedule imposed by the customer’s production and its vegetable harvests.
The collaboration and the partnership between all the participants of Hesbaye Frost and Alstef Group have largely contributed to the success of this commissioning.
The upgrade of the supervision software environment was guided by numerous exchanges between the teams of Hesbaye Frost and Alstef Group. A collaboration that allowed to target, then to put in music the numerous requests to customize the Operating Screens monitoring interface, with in particular the live monitoring of the pallets movements, even when they are not managed by the AGV.
Finally, the quality of the training provided on site by Alstef Group dedicated trainers has been greatly appreciated by Hesbaye Frost, which wishes to manage in an autonomous and advanced way the maintenance of its 10 AGV fleet.
André Leclercq, Project Manager and Quentin Regout, Site Manager, joined the field teams to underline
“The very high professionalism of Alstef Group’s on-site and remote support teams, as well as the good relations maintained with our teams.”