Stacks of benefits in integrating palletising

Posted on January 17th, 2017 in News

Taking the time to look for ways to drive efficiencies in your business and across your supply chain is always a great thing for manufacturers and processors of all sizes. How your business handles materials, including optimising warehousing systems, and through robotics and palletising, as well racking and storage, can offer clear ways to increase efficiencies.

Matthews worked with the marketer of some of the world’s leading brands, Kimberly-Clark Australia, to ramp up its production-line efficiency by integrating palletising with other packaging-related processes. Of the result, Kimberly-Clark Australia’s e-supply chain manager, said: “With this integrated iDSnet system from Matthews, we have eliminated all administrative steps, increased accuracy, and increased productivity.”


Kimberly-Clark markets some of the world’s leading brands, with 18.5% of the global population using its health, hygiene and well-being products daily. In Australia, the company has two manufacturing sites and seven distribution centres, with annual sales revenue of around $1 billion. Of its 1,000 or so products, 400 are manufactured in Australia.

Kimberly-Clark embarked on a distribution and network excellence project to improve the footprint, velocity, efficiency and service capability of its finished goods supply chain. The project included building new warehouses on greenfield sites, as well as revamping existing facilities. The company knew poor data quality was impeding every process in its business, but not to what extent. A GS1 Data Quality Audit identified data omissions and inaccuracies (especially affecting imported products) that would severely impact on the new accelerated, integrated and automated production and distribution processes.

Business needs

The company’s business needs centred around efficiency. One of its specific objectives was to create a fast-flowing supply chain, with many components, including automated production recording, automated SSCC pallet labelling, scanning of GTINs and SSCCs, conveying, roll-on-roll-off (RORO) dock and vehicle system, and automated storage and retrieval system, together with electronic ASN messages.

Kimberly-Clark wanted to improve its production line efficiency:

  • with automated real-time production recording
  • with heightened accuracy and visibility
  • by eliminating manual steps (other than “error” handling), and
  • by providing the foundation for all downstream processes (ASRS, RORO, etc.)

Process needs

Its process needs centred around automation. Kimberly-Clark’s processes were manual and informal. Previously, forklift drivers would pick up pallets at the end of the production line and keep a manual tally. At the end of a shift, all drivers’ tallies were collected and manually aggregated, with one data entry then made into the ERP system to record that entire shift’s production.

The process needed to be automated to remove human error and vastly increase the speed at which pallets could be loaded and leave the warehouse.

Selection criteria

Supplier and solution-integration capability guided the solution choice.

Matthews’ iDSnet provides a real-time product traceability solution that ensures error-free coding. Adaptable, scalable iDSnet could be integrated into Kimberly-Clark’s ERP and warehouse systems, plus integrate with and control peripheral equipment (e.g.: scanners).

Matthews’ integration skills and experience were factors in Kimberly-Clark choosing it, and iDSnet, for their pallet SSCC-LPA and RORO scanning solution in their new fast-flowing supply chain. This includes working with other suppliers.


Kimberly-Clark installed Matthews’ integration software iDSnet, along with four SSCC pallet-labelling systems into its Ingleburn plant (in NSW), and three into its Millicent plant (in SA). Each LPA, sited at the out-feeds from the robotic-palletisation cells, is fully integrated with Machinery Automation and Robotics (MAR) automation systems, as well as into Kimberly-Clark’s back-end SAP for real-time production recording.

Matthews also helped Dexion supply and install a pallet system at Kimberly-Clark’s Erskine Park NDC (NSW); along with the scanning component, using Datalogic scanners, of the RORO dock system at Kimberly-Clark’s Ingleburn plant. Controlled by iDSnet, these read each SSCC onto the truck.

The LPA system auto-checks each pallet against a number of rules; any exceptions lead to an “error” label being applied instead of a standard SSCC. Error-labelled pallets are diverted to a “hospital station” for manual intervention. Matthews’ solution visually highlights errors at the production point, allowing corrective action much sooner. Ensuring source accuracy benefits the entire downstream supply chain.

The solution relies heavily on multiple GS1 standards.


Using Matthews’ iDSnet as part of its major distribution and network excellence project, Kimberly-Clark accelerated product flows, significantly reduced administrative steps, increased accuracy and increased productivity across its manufacturing and distribution sites.

Kimberly-Clark’s production lines are now fully automated, and Ingleburn additionally has a RORO vehicle loading system. Pallets go directly onto the RORO loading system and can be gone in five minutes — replacing a much longer, manual process.

The full integration Matthews did into Kimberly-Clark’s back-end SAP, automated production lines and WM system was important because:

  • It facilitates production recording to be hands free and real time, as each full pallet is SSCC labelled, at both the Millicent and Ingleburn mills. “Real time” is important for immediate inventory visibility and availability, but also necessary for downstream processes. “Hands free” is important for accuracy and productivity.
  • At Ingleburn, it additionally facilitates real time and hands-free loading of vehicles via the RORO dock for immediate transfer of goods to Kimberly-Clark’s NDC, so any pallet is available for sale within 30-90 minutes of production.

The total distribution and network excellence project, of which Matthews’ solutions is an integral part, has delivered very significant improvements in accuracy, productivity, costs and service levels — all underpinned by the GS1 system. Overall, Kimberly-Clark has created lasting capability upon which it has been able to grow the business.

If you’re thinking about palletising, here are some tips on choosing the right palletising system; while stepping outside palletising, see how next-generation robots are transforming manufacturing along with the impact that cobots are predicted to have in 2017.

Like to talk more about integrating production processes on your lines? Visit Matthews on stand 56.

Want to read more? Matthews has a whole resource library of whitepapers, articles from our thought leaders, presentations, infographics, our YouTube channel and so on. And all material from our resource library is free to download!

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