Efficiency through Automation – this was the message given to guests attending SSI Schaefer’s annual Automation Day Conference in Liverpool. The event highlighted the advantages of implementing automation into existing logistics operations through a number of unique and exciting presentations delivered by leading market experts.
Attending the event were some of the country’s largest and well-known retailers, all wanting to take tips away on how to make significant efficiency improvements to their own operations and most importantly get a closer look at how TJ Morris, the UK’s fastest growing discount retailer, has successfully implemented automation into its existing storage and distribution centre in Gillmoss, Liverpool.
TJ Morris Ltd, trading as Home Bargains, is one of the UK’s leading and fastest growing, privately owned discount retailers with over 300 stores – plans are in place to expand this number to over 500 stores by 2018.
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 in conjunction with Total Logistics, selected SSI Schaefer to deliver and exceed those expectations.
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 32 metre high-bay extension to the distribution centre was built.
The new extension, now able to house more than 46,000 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 whole system is effectively controlled and managed using SSI Schaefer’s Convey Warehouse Control System.
Speaking at the event, Joe Morris, Operations Director at TJ Morris, gave a passionate account of his family-owned business, which started out in 1976 as just one store in Old Swan, Liverpool and vividly described expansion plans in 2009 that has now significantly driven operational costs down, improved stock availability and significantly improved picking accuracy and speed.
Joe 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: “Automation does work and it is currently working in our facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, what I would advise is to always work with a supplier that you know is going to be around for the long-haul and that you can actually get on with. Stay clear of making the solution too complicated, understand individual roles and responsibilities and always get advice from someone that has already been there.”
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