A world leader in packaging line engineering, Gebo Cermex, part of the Sidel Group, is renowned for its particular expertise in end-of-line, palletising equipment and intralogistics – the latter capability strongly developed since 2015 via the company’s partnership with BA Systèmes.

Nathalie Rauch, Operations Manager for Moulin de la Chaume, one of the bakery production units of the Intermarché Group, highlighted these strategic capabilities of Gebo Cermex, clearly demonstrated during a complete rebuild of the site following a serious fire.

Gebo Cermex was chosen for its ability to provide, in a challenging timeframe, a complete end-of-line solution, managed via a centralised supervision system connected with the site's ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). This enabled the integration of production order management, as well as the traceability and intralogistics functions. Four robotic palletising cells were installed in parallel, along with a range of equipment to provide additional functionality: stretch-wrapping, labelling, case and pallet conveying. Two AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) ensure effective management of empty and full pallets, as well as the supply of consumables on the lines.

A strategic project for the Intermarché Group

Moulin de la Chaume is one of the four industrial bakeries of Agromousquetaires, an integrated production division of the Intermarché Group. The site supplies frozen unbaked bread and frozen pre-baked bread predominantly to the group's platforms. Four production lines operate in three 8-hour shifts, five to six days a week, producing a total of over 17,000 tonnes of goods. More than 30 different types of white and speciality breads are processed by the bakery, packaged in six different cardboard case formats. 30 pallets come off the lines each hour, directed to one of 3,000 slots in the refrigeration chamber.   Devastated by a fire, the plant was entirely rebuilt and re-equipped. Pleased with Gebo Cermex’s performance on other projects within the Intermarché Group, the integrated design office of Agromousquetaires had no reservation in validating the choice of Moulin de la Chaume to trust the Gebo Cermex palletising/depalletising division for its end-of-line and intralogistics services. Six months after delivery of the last machine, on time and on budget, Nathalie Rauch recognises that she made the right decision - "What convinced us was the overall expertise, from the management of individual cases to storage of the finished pallet – it was not just the palletising aspect. This, coupled with the intelligence to make the whole thing work." 

A complete, fully connected end-of-line solution Featuring several different technologies and components, the solution installed at the Moulin de la Chaume plant by Gebo Cermex is characterised by high operational intelligence and smooth integration into the production flow, contributing to the efficiency of the four lines, as well as improving operator safety and batch traceability.

Its supervision system covers manufacturing order management and provides full traceability of the pallets and cases: as fully connected with the customer’s ERP, the information printed on the labels are detected and sent to the Moulin de la Chaume product information system. This is all done from a single interface terminal, enabling all operations to be handled from one central point. A further benefit is that this system allows pallet patterns to be automatically optimised based on the features of references which are recorded and stored in the ERP.

Multi-functionality of AGVs and gripping tools The two AGVs supplied are driver-less forklift trucks for pallet stacking, providing the link between the palletising cells and the stretch-wrappers that operate with the full pallets. They also deliver the stacked empty pallets to the cells, as well as carrying pallets of cardboard cases to the line’s case erectors. As the AGVs are laser-guided, they require no civil engineering changes to the site. Featuring automatic battery change, they ensure 360° safety by detecting any passive or moving obstacles. The four robotic palletising cells, featuring a 6-axis robot and case labeller, offer brushless motorised gripping tools which are 100% automatically adjustable for format changes. These tools have been further optimised in recent months to enrich the recently launched RoboAccess® palletising solution from Gebo Cermex. This ensures fully automatic format changeovers. Each robot has a Human Machine Interface (HMI), with PalDesigner® software included for the creation of new palletising formats and patterns.

Results that exceed expectations 

Moulin de la Chaume is the best performer of the four Agromousquetaires industrial bakeries in terms of the division’s logistics indicators. Nathalie Rauch recognises that this is primarily due to  the integration of the four palletising cells and the additional equipment in the overall manufacturing order management system, as well as to the fact that they are all centrally managed. "Beyond their know-how in equipment and systems, Gebo Cermex has demonstrated with this project that it has great expertise in automation and industrial IT, to connect end-of-line components with each other and to our production system."

Moulin de la Chaume has gained in terms of efficiency, with better management of production orders via end-of-line supervision, and also in terms of batch and pallet traceability and upgradability. "With this equipment, we have made a leap into Industry 4.0 production - and we can easily integrate it into our future line management," continues Rauch. The benefits of PalDesigner and the possibility to deliver consumables on lines by optimising the use of AGVs are also behind her positive feedback.

25% growth potential to exploit new segments

While 90% of the production from Moulin de la Chaume is destined for the Intermarché Group, the remainder is delivered to independent distribution channels in France and Italy. The palletising and intralogistics equipment supplied by Gebo Cermex was suitably designed for the purpose of developing this area of the market. As such, it will enable ramp-up of future production capacity from the customer’s side, including the possibility to integrate a fifth production line.