Firmly rooted in Switzerland, the Coop Group has grown over 150 years from a small consumer cooperative to become an international retail and wholesale business employing 85,000 people. With 240,000 square meters (m2) of gross floor space, Coop’s new logistics center in Schafisheim, in the Canton of Aargau, is one of the largest buildings in Switzerland. It houses Switzerland's largest bakery and patisserie, a national distribution center for frozen products and a regional distribution center for fresh food products and household goods.
Coop aims to become more eco-friendly, efficient and faster as a large distributor and manufacturer of food, beverages and household goods such as hygiene and cleaning products. The completion of the pioneering logistics center marks the beginning of a new era for Coop. The center’s advanced automation systems are establishing new benchmarks for logistics management and sustainability. Already, Coop has reduced its CO2 emissions by more than 10,000 tons a year – an annual saving equivalent to taking nearly 2,000 average cars off the road and a significant contribution to Coop's overall CO2 vision for the CO2 -neutral operation of all its divisions by 2023.
Cutting-edge technology contributes to sustainability
Coop’s large-scale bakery is one of the most modern facilities in Europe. Its workforce of 600 employees produces around 60,000 tons of baked products a year. They also produce deep freeze dough products that are frozen directly for distribution to Coop supermarkets throughout Switzerland, ready for baking fresh in-store.
Cooling plays an important role in the production process. There are four refrigeration systems providing a total cooling power of 8 megawatts (MW) – the same as around 40,000 domestic refrigerators. The refrigeration systems support Coop’s CO2 vision, as they offer a high level of energy efficiency by using the natural refrigerant ammonia. The cooling systems were designed and installed by Johnsons Controls and tailored to Coop’s specific needs and requirements.
Highest efficiency class motors and drives
ABB technology is integrated deep into the center’s operations. The compressors in the coolant circuits are driven by ABB motors and variable speed drives. The motors have the maximum efficiency class rating, IE4, with up to 97 percent efficiency when operating at full load. The VSDs enable further electricity savings by accurately controlling the speed of the motors, in accordance with the cooling output required.
Since their commissioning in 2016, the refrigeration systems have been running like clockwork. Beat Schuppisser, Branch Manager responsible for Industrial Refrigeration at Johnson Controls and overall Project Manager for the refrigeration systems, is satisfied with the project: "We have installed a state-of-the-art system with the maximum possible energy efficiency. Combining an IE4 motor and a VSD is the best solution in terms of energy efficiency available today."
Schuppisser said it was important to Johnson Controls to procure motors and variable speed drives from a single source. This was the only way to make sure that the supply and installment process was coordinated as efficiently as possible.
"The ABB team has given us excellent advice and supported the project closely. For example, they gave the setup a thorough inspection prior to commissioning. This is an important requirement with a view to ensure that everything would later work seamlessly," explained Schuppisser.
“It has been a pleasure working together with both Coop and Johnson Controls to help set a new sustainability benchmark,” says Brith Isaksson, Global Food and Beverage Segment Manager, ABB Motion. “Our motors and VSDs allow for an extra level of control to ensure that the compressors in the coolant circuits are only being used when they need to be and at the level required. We are confident that this is just the start of the savings that will be seen by Coop.”
ABB contributes to center efficiency
In addition to the motors and VSDs, ABB robots are also in use at the new logistics complex. In the returned empty goods center, thousands of empty transport crates are received at Schafisheim from around 400 Coop branches. 15 ABB robots unload the crates from the transport containers and sort and stack them. An IRB 360 FlexPicker industrial robot is also employed in the bakery to handle some of the dough processing steps.
The photovoltaic array on the roof of the complex produces around 250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year for use by the center – enough to power a typical electric vehicle on a journey of over one million kilometers. Seven ABB solar inverters convert the direct-current (DC) produced by the solar panels to the alternating current (AC) required for feeding into the logistics center’s power network.