Trinchero Family Estates: Powered storage

Trinchero Family Estates’ state-of-the-art distribution is powered by an automated storage system capable of handling as many as 4.2 million cases at any given time.

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Size: 440,000 square feet, including 180,000 square feet of automated storage

Pallets: 72,300 pallet positions and 65,860 captive plastic pallets

Products: Wine and spirits

Stock keeping units: 750-800 SKUs

Throughput: 22 million cases per year with current production

Shifts: 1 shift per day/5 days a week

Employees: 28 full-time employees in warehouse operations

Click here to learn more about the transformation of Tinchero Family Estates’ distribution center.

In 2015, Tinchero Family Estates, the second-largest family-owned winery in the world, set out to build a winery and distribution center unlike anything else in the industry. The result is a Lean warehousing and distribution operation that revolves around an automated pallet shuttle and storage system with 6,048 rows and 72,300 pallet positions and capacity to store 4.2 million cases at any point in time. All told, the system can handle 250 pallets per hour at surge speed.


Receiving: Although the facility does receive, store and distribute some inventory that is produced off-site, most of what goes through the distribution center is bottled at the winery, which is where the receiving process begins. After bottling, cases of finished wine are conveyed to a palletizing area where they are palletized onto captive plastic pallets. The pallet is built and automatically stretch-wrapped. A license plate bar code label (LPN) is generated by the warehouse management system (WMS) and applied to the pallet. The pallet passes through a portal where the dimensions and load integrity of the pallet are automatically verified. Once that is complete, the LPN is scanned and the WMS assigns the pallet to a specific transfer cart.

Putaway: Once the transfer cart picks up a pallet, it delivers it to one of four input conveyors that service the four elevators in the automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). The storage system software looks for a storage location in an available row that has the same batch and SKU numbers. The elevator then delivers the pallet to the right level. Once there, the pallet is received onto an aisle cart, or pallet shuttle. The cart travels into the module and puts the pallet into storage in the assigned row and then returns to the elevator for its next assignment. The pallet is now available to promise.


Staging: Orders that will be loaded and delivered that day are scheduled in SAP prior to the scheduled shipping day. Trucks are scheduled for arrival in advance. When a truck is checked in by traffic personnel, the system receives a message that it is time to stage an order for loading. Aisle carts retrieve and deliver pallets to the outbound side of the AS/RS on the north side of the building. At the ground level, pallets of finished goods are picked up by transfer carts that deliver them to one of 12 staging lanes, with each lane capable of handling a truckload of pallets.

Shipping: When a trailer checks into a shipping dock, a loader scans the driver’s paperwork and scans the bar code label at the end of the staging lane. If the product on the staging lane coincides with the trucker’s manifest, a table at the end of the staging lane lowers, signaling that the order is ready for loading.

Processing mixed pallets: In addition to full pallets, Trinchero builds mixed pallets for some customers and also handles some finished goods produced outside of the winery. In the case of finished product, it is conveyed from receiving into the automated storage system and is then handled like wine produced on the bottling lines. Meanwhile, mixed pallets are assembled manually by associates who pick cases from racks and floor level storage bins to pallets on lift trucks. Once a mixed pallet is assembled, it is manually verified, stretch wrapped and the system generates an LPN. The pallet is inducted into the system just like a full pallet. Once inducted, it is stored and retrieved just like a full pallet of finished product.

System suppliers

Automated Storage & Retrieval System: Swisslog (formerly PAS)

Conveyor & Warehouse Control System: Swisslog


Palletizers & De-palletizers: Emmeti

Lift Trucks/ Order Pickers/ Reach Trucks & Attachments: Hyster

Bar Code Scanning: Symbol and Zebra

Stretch Wrappers: Orion, Lantech and Unisource in the warehouse. Phoenix on the production lines.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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