Finnish hoist and crane builder Erikkila is delivering two robotic cranes to the cheese-maturing warehouse of Swedish dairy Norrmejerier this year. The order follows an order of two, and a warehouse control system, in 2001.

The two new cranes will be fitted alongside the identical older models. The old cranes spanned 23m and had track lengths of 90m in order to reach much of the warehouse. With the new cranes new warehouse space will be built alongside to store more types of cheese. In total, there will be four parallel warehouses.

Approximately 1,600 containers, weighing 700 kg each are moved in each day. The 10t cranes use a belt hoist that lifts at .75 m/s.

The control system of the crane logs the location of each cheese container, and the crane can pick containers automatically. In fact the system follows a pre-set cheese maturing schedule. The schedule determines when the crane moves each cheese container to another maturing temperature. The system also keeps a log, so the maturing process of each cheese can be tracked.

Because no forklift routes are needed, the crane can make best use of the warehouse space. Cheese containers are stacked at most three high, a total height of 4.8m, and distance between them is 75mm.

The ability to use the customer’s existing cheese containers in the automated warehouse lowered the investment costs. Erikkilä Nostotekniikkaa did the project management, mechanics, electrification, controls, software programmes and implementation, and is also responsible for maintenance.