A multi-product distribution center faced dealing with low throughput and accuracy and recorded significant increases in volume over recent years.
The main business units included lines of baking and cake decorating products, kitchen utensils, photo frames and kitchenware and steady growth merited upgrades and improvements to the conveying system.
With increases in volume, operating issues soon came to light. In order to keep up with new quantity levels, the existing conveying system had several issues to address for peak productivity.
Primary objectives with the project were to increase throughput and picking accuracy.
The existing conveyor lines for the picking areas were not connected, and orders had to be handled to the appropriate pallet to be loaded on the appropriate truck. As a result, throughput was weak and shipping cartons were not filled to the optimum weight, which led to higher shipping costs.
An integrated conveyor system from Hytrol with belt, gravity, sawtooth merge and horizontal accumulating units featuring EZ-Logic was incorporated to the 143,000 square foot facility. Conveyors connect three picking areas: less-than-case, separate case and mezzanine picking for mail orders. All the lines flow into a computerized sortation system that sends cartons down the right shipping line.
The sortation system is critical to the operation’s efficiency. It processes 18 cases a minute and has capacity to process up to 30. Cartons pass through the fluid load lines and reach outbound shipping trucks.
The last shipping carton of each order is diverted to a packing list area where the carton is scanned and a packing list is product and applied. The final shipping carton is reintroduced to the sorter through a re-circulation conveyor and sent down the proper line.
The new Hytrol conveying system increased productivity right off the bat. Throughput increased by over 20% in the case picking area alone. The system design also allows for easy expansion of picking modules and sortation system to accommodate future volume increases.
The average weight of packages shipped increased from 13 pounds to 19, which results in lower overall carton volume and a great reduction of shipping costs.