Nikko Sangyo Transport

Leading the cold-storage industry with end-to-end automation

Headquartered in Ishikari City, Hokkaido, Japan, Nikko Sangyo Transport operates three businesses as a food logistics provider: freight transport, delivery, and warehousing. In its freight transport business, the company operates regular trucking routes 365 days a year between Hokkaido and the Kansai and Kanto regions, delivering milk and other products from Hokkaido and returning to deliver foodstuffs to restaurant chains and mass retailers in Hokkaido. The distribution business further delivers products brought by the freight transport business to approximately 4,500 locations in Hokkaido. In the warehousing business, Nikko Sangyo Transport operates two distribution centers where it is responsible for inventory control and product thawing and packaging.

In April 2020, the company opened its Ishikari No. 2 Distribution Center, which is equipped with three temperature zones (frozen, refrigerated, and room temperature), on a vast 36,364 m2 site about a five-minute drive from the head office. The center stores goods entrusted by about 30 companies, including food product manufacturers. By handling products from a variety of business categories, the company has achieved low-cost, efficient operations and ensured consistent work volume year-round.

To improve the working environment, the company installed unit load and mini load AS/RSs to fully automate cold storage operations. This allows case and piece picking operations to be performed in the cargo handling area, which is set at 0°C instead of the -25°C freezing environment found in the storage area. In addition, as a measure against earthquakes, the AS/RS layout has reduced height and increased depth.

  • At 0°C, the cargo handling area provides a better working environment over the freezer area. Receiving and dispatching operations are fully automated and product quality is thoroughly controlled.

  • Mobile Racks for storing refrigerated goods. The first level of the rack holds medium-duty shelving to facilitate piece picking operations.

Cutting-edge strategies that enable flexible order preparation & inventory management

The company was one of the first in the industry to employ cutting-edge strategies, such as the introduction 20 years ago of a system that allows consignors to check the location of trucks carrying goods they receive and the temperature inside the warehouse. The center has now also introduced a system using projection mapping technology, which is used to sort the batch-picked products by store. This highly flexible system allows the layout to be changed immediately to suit the business type, and the sorting space can be used in a versatile manner.

In addition, barcodes are attached to pallets and carts, and are linked to products when they are received or placed in the warehouse, thereby ensuring thorough inventory control. In addition, inventory control accuracy has been improved by introducing an "as-needed inventory count" system, which allows inventory counts to be checked during picking operations and corrected if an error is found.

Customer’s comment

Kimio Asai
CEO

We would like to further improve our working environments business-wide by automating all operations in our cold areas. We would also seek to eliminate human error as much as possible and improve productivity, which will lead to the happiness of both the company and its employees.

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