TJ Morris Ltd, trading as Home Bargains, is one of the UK’s leading and fastest growing, privately owned discount retailers with over 200 stores. With plans to expand this number to over 500 stores by 2018, the business has no plans to slow down.
With growing business comes growing demand for stock levels and quick turnaround for store replenishment – needing increased storage capacity, and maximum product pick efficiency whilst maintaining low labour overheads, TJ Morris turned to SSI Schaefer to deliver and exceed those expectations within its existing storage and distribution centre in Liverpool, Merseyside.
SSI Schaefer were selected to provide TJ Morris with an optimum solution that would not only address the immediate operational efficiencies but also provide a flexible solution to accommodate future growth within the business.
Close to reaching ‘critical mass’, the Home Bargains Operation required a significant increase in bulk storage capacity – the decision was also made to make the whole picking operation more efficient and operator friendly. To augment the existing storage whilst accommodating the growing volume of palletised products, a 26 metre high-bay extension to the distribution centre was built.
The new extension, able to house more than 42,000 pallets, has 11 pallet cranes that feed products to more than 1,000 ground level picking locations and deliver replenishment orders to an adjacent mini-load crane-based tote storage system, built to hold slower moving items, providing an additional storage capacity of up to 28,000 totes and 804 picking stations.
The storage totes, are provided in two sizes by SSI Schaefer, one to keep stored products and one to ship items out to store. Both pallet crane and mini-load storage areas are served by extensive pallet and tote conveyor systems.
Pallets arrive either pre-labelled or are labelled upon receipt and quickly inducted on to a pallet conveyor system, which has been designed to handle up to 300 pallets per hour. Two pallet checking stations, capable of processing 150 pallets per hour, check weight and identify broken blocks or bottom boards. A conveyor feed system into the high bay is mounted on a mezzanine floor with elevator access in order to avoid any obstruction to the picking operation.
Pallet cranes feed full pallets to case-picking aisles directly below the high bay storage locations, where cases are picked manually. Full pallets are routed by conveyor to the despatch area or to replenish stock in the mini-load storage system.
At the mini-load receiving stations pallets are placed upon hydraulic lifts, ergonomically designed to help operators break down and decant items into storage totes. The storage totes are then placed on a tote conveyor, which delivers direct to a mini-load crane docking station from where they are picked up and put away in the racking via a crane.
Waste cardboard generated by the process is taken away by an overhead belt conveyor to an external compactor. Product bearing totes are subsequently delivered by the crane to picking locations in flow racks integrated within the mini-load racking at ground level.
Operators, fed by a constant supply of conveyed empty totes, voice-pick products to fulfil multiple orders which, when completed, are placed on a takeaway conveyor and sent to a goods-out marshalling area, where they are automatically sorted by despatch route for waiting vehicles.
SSI Schaefer have fully automated both the strapping round boxes and the ink jet printing and application of labels on the strapping. The whole system is effectively controlled and managed using SSI Schaefer’s Convey Warehouse Control System.
Joe Morris, Operations Director, TJ Morris, said: “Without the expertise and systems technology provided by SSI Schaefer our operation would have struggled to meet the demands placed upon the business by the increased sales of a rapidly expanding store base throughout the UK.”
He continued: “Expanding our storage capability and automating the most labour-intensive areas of our distribution operation has enabled us to expand and future-proof our operation without the need for continual investment in additional labour.”
Eco fresh – Freshness guaranteed
Innovative solutions are needed to keep food fresh over long distances without losing sight of the costs involved. The folding ECOfresh crate from SSI Schaefer now more than satisfies the requirements of the food industry.
SSI Schaefer developed the ECOfresh crate following demand to keep perishable food, particularly fruit and vegetables, fresh during what is often a lengthy logistics process – the plastic container is very robust but remarkably light and its quick and easy folding mechanism allows its volume level to reduce by 86%. Minimising volumes of reusable containers not only improves truck utilisation rates but also significantly reduces the number of costly trips – this has made the container not only uncomplicated to work with but also very cost effective and ecologically sound. Ventilation apertures on the ECOfresh crate ensure optimum cooling of food.
The award-winning collapsible container ECO-tech by SSI Schaefer can be used within an automated small parts warehouse and offers plenty of capabilities suitable for industry, trade and service.
The industrial collapsible container is available in two versions: with closed side walls or with one or two display flaps on the front side. The version featuring a display flap allows easy and safe access to the content of the container. Through this flap opening, the content can be reached comfortably even while the containers are stacked. The same holds true for filling the containers. This way, the picking capacity will increase and allow for an additional picking station in the same space.
With integrated safety closure and ergonomically formed handles, this container can be collapsed quickly and safely without sequential order and realises a reduction in volume by 80%.
SSI Schaefer’s environmentally friendly plastic containers using the award-winning and highly regarded INTERCEPT® Technology is a new product that is set to revolutionise the way goods are protected during transportation and vastly improve the green credentials of its users.
The containers were developed to protect virtually any material from all climatic conditions and environmental influences. INTERCEPT® products do not emit chemical gases; they can be recycled and meet all work safety requirements and goods no longer need to be preserved, for example, by oiling them, resulting in considerable processing cost savings.
Such technology allows users to protect goods against corrosion during transport, shipment and storage under extreme conditions and reduce production costs whilst reducing overall carbon footprint impact.
New Automated Order Fulfillment System for Office Depot Leicester
In just under 12 months SSI Schaefer completed the design, supply, manufacture, delivery and installation of a fully functioning Automated Order Fulfillment System for Office Depot’s distribution centre in Leicester.
The system is designed to allow Office Depot to process 75,000 order lines over a 12-hour period with a daily picking capacity of 36,000 cartons.
Office Depot has a very quick turnaround of customer orders, which are either delivered the next day or even the same day. It would be impossible to turn around such a large amount of diverse orders without automation, which is why an Automated Order Fulfillment System was the best possible option. Simon Brammall, Senior Project Manager, Office Depot Leicester, said: “Automated order fulfillment is a tried and tested technology within the Office Depot supply chain and one that we are constantly evolving as technologies improve, provided this can be justified as a cost saving initiative.”
Sustainability was a vital element of the build, resulting in the system being designed using energy saving measures whilst utilising several new technologies to provide a sustainable building for years to come. Developments in conveyor technology and the increasing use of power-saving ‘on-demand’ running allowed a ‘shutdown system’ period to be introduced to the central conveyor during lean periods, closing sections of the conveyor automatically until a carton is detected entering a section – a vital, energy-saving, sustainable measure requested by Office Depot.
Summarising the project, David Hibbett, SSI Schaefer, said: “Overall the system is required to convey cartons from an infeed storage area, to a dispatch area, via a number of picking faces according to a pre-determined route communicated from the Office Depot host system.”
A manual carton induction process with automatic leaflet/flyer insertion has been provided and induct stations are inclusive of ink jet coding stations for printing, unique brand logos and possible additional messaging. Erected cartons are then discharged from each machine onto a take-away conveyor and automatically directed into size specific accumulation lanes – continuous spiral belt conveyors reduce blockages and improve maintenance access.
However, as a proposed next step, the system is designed to allow for automatic carton induction with on-line printing of picking lists using automatic carton erectors capable of producing multiple carton footprints with different heights assembling 1200 cartons per hour.
A split case picking system on multiple levels complete with carton / tote recirculation ensures no system gridlock. The system operates a throughput of 2400 cartons per hour to different areas of the picking system and all pick zones are equipped with pick by light systems to deliver efficiency and accuracy simultaneously. Each operate at the required optimum of 1800 cartons per hour and come with an individual picking loop and progressive check weighing facility to check for errors at source.
An Auto Dispensing Unit, A-Frame, capable of a minimum performance rate of 1200 cartons per hour while handling over 800 products, is responsible for handling small regular sized products such as pens, post-it pads and ink cartridges and automatically dispenses products into split case cartons.
An 11 metre high Automatic Storage & Retrieval System consists of eight commissioner cranes and two pick to tote stations. The cranes deliver the required performance of 1000 put away and 1000 tote retrievals per hour and the two pick to tote stations are capable of handling 500 lines per hour.
Real time statistical display screens, including maximum number of cartons allowed and current number of cartons etc are placed at key locations throughout the installation to give an ‘at a glance’ view of the workload around the system to allow additional staff to be allocated as necessary.
Upon completion of the picking operation, the carton/tote is conveyed to a manual/visual checking area on a powered conveyor to be manually removed by the operator and following checking the operator replaces the carton back onto the main transportation conveyor. Throughout all the picking areas there is a series of belted waste conveyors installed that deliver waste to an outside compactor for recycling.
Once all items are picked for an individual order the final stage of handling is the checking, lidding and labeling operation. An integrated carton cutting and lidding machine cuts down the size of each carton to its minimum height whilst lidding the carton in a single machine.
The shipping sortation system is capable of picking over 5000 cartons per hour while delivering up to 30 plus internal locations for palletizing goods for local distribution and to extendable lorry loaders for the UK network as a whole.
The Future Looks Bright for Budweiser
SSI Schaefer has designed, built and installed a brand new automated storage facility for well-known brewery Budweiser Budvar at the company’s existing production site ?eské Bud?jovice in the Czech Republic.
The new high-bay racking facility, complete with Schaefer’s pallet conveyor technology, is 26 metres high, three aisles wide and houses 3000 pallet storage locations, for pallets with a weight of up to 900 kilograms, directly connected to Budvar’s existing block warehouse production site.
Combined with the latest plant technology, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) integration and tailored Warehouse Management System (WMS), SSI Schaefer has significantly increased process reliability whilst making maximum use of available space.
Pavel Panek, Head of Logistics and Purchasing at the Budvar brewery said: “We were looking for a solution that met our complex requirements using the latest technology. The key objectives included maximum utilisation of existing space, 100 percent process control, real-time tracking and the integration of our RFID-led block warehouse into the new Warehouse Management System, integrated again into our existing ERP system. SSI Schaefer offered the best solution to meet these needs with an attractive price/performance ratio.”
SSI Schaefer Ltd
Tel: 01264 386618