Unilever and United States Cold Storage (USCS) unveiled their new 336,500-square-foot facility in Covington, Tennessee, on November 6 with a ribbon cutting ceremony and special event that included guest speakers, facility tours and participation from the members of the design/build team. It is equipped with Vectura Cranes, pallet conveyors and automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) all optimized and controlled by Swisslog’s Warehouse Execution System (WES) Software.
The frozen distribution center (DC) connects to Unilever’s existing 815,000-square-foot production plant with a 312-foot corridor kept at -20C degrees. Combined, the two facilities create one of the largest ice cream manufacturing and distribution facilities in the world.
Said Mike Lynch, vice president of engineering, “USCS is not one to shy away from trying something new and innovative. Our warehouse in Covington represents several important firsts. It is our first plant-attached warehouse. It’s also our first highly automated warehouse, employing a sophisticated inbound product pallet handling system, AGVs and automated storage and retrieval cranes. And it is US Cold’s most energy efficient and sustainable operation designed according to the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. I’m proud to say that Covington is in consideration for official LEED Silver Certification.”
Headquartered in Vorhees, New Jersey, USCS ranks as the third largest provider of refrigerated warehousing logistics services in North America. The company, a member of the Swire Group, operates 229 million cubic feet of temperature-controlled space offering 975,000 pallet positions at 36 coldstores from coast to coast. The Covington facility is its third in Tennessee, with others doing business in Smyrna and La Vergne. Approximately 35% of the products handled by US Cold Storage are distributed overseas.
Among other key members of the design build team for the Covington project included Primus Builders, Inc., IA Interior Architects, A2H Engineers, Primus Design Services, Shine Electrical Group and Republic Refrigeration, Inc. The selected team won the National Award of Merit for the project from the Design Build Institute of America earlier in the year and is up for nomination for even more accolades next month.
Markus Schmidt, senior vice president of Swisslog WDS Americas, commented, “I am honored that we were selected to be part of such a prestigious team dedicated to installing an energy efficient and sustainable operation. Having installed more than 250 automatic stacker cranes that serve over 600,000 pallet locations within temperature controlled storage in the United Sates alone, we have been able to perfect our cold storage solutions to meet the needs of today’s most demanding warehouse environments.”
Newport News, Virginia-based Swisslog designs, develops and delivers automation solutions for operators of warehouses and distribution centers. The company offers integrated systems and services from a single source – from consulting to design, implementation and lifetime customer service. It is a member of the KUKA Group, which employs approximately 2,500 people worldwide, supporting customers in more than 50 countries.