Pick and Choose
Automotive and leisure products retailer Halfords has installed a new picking system designed to send out up to 200,000 items a day to its network of 470 stores across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The Halfords Group operates about 20 retail outlets located in the Republic of Ireland, with more stores now in the planning stage.
Designed and installed by Dematic, the new picking system is installed at the company’s 320,000sq.ft. Distribution Centre and combines conveyors, a combination of picking technologies and an automated buffer that consolidates picked totes into store orders.
The key to achieving the necessary ultra-high throughput levels involved creating a small parts store for picking 10,000 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) of small products quickly and accurately into ‘order totes’ and then consolidating them for delivery to the stores.
Working together with Halfords, Dematic designed a solution that located a small parts picking centre on a double deck mezzanine. Running along the entire 165m length of the DC over the loading bay doors, the structure facilitates marshalling below, yet provides 70,000 sq ft of picking area in what would normally be unused space over the marshalling areas.
DESIGN & PLANNING
“The design, planning and implementation of the small parts picking system went very well and we developed a good working relationship with Dematic,” said Mark Shirley, Logistics Controller at Halfords. “We asked them to take our throughput numbers and come back with a design that would give the results we were looking for.”
Dematic’s cost efficient and highly productive small parts picking solution comprises a conveyor-based system with both pick-to-light and pick-by-voice technology. On the mezzanine’s first level, 3,600 SKUs of faster moving small parts are picked from live storage lanes using fast and accurate pick-to-light technology. The simplicity of this system allows 300 lines per hour to be picked.
The upper level of the small parts store houses Halfords’s 6,000 slower moving SKUs, which are located in bins on inclined shelves for ergonomic picking.
Voice picking technology allows 200 lines per hour of these products to be picked at a much lower capital cost than pick-to-light. This high rate is helped by concentrating picks into smaller areas so that each tote only travels to one or two zones for it to be filled up and travel distances for staff, who have their hands free, are reduced, thus giving a very efficient pick.
60 VOICE TERMINALS
As Vocollect reseller for the project, Dematic supplied a total of 60 voice terminals. Twenty of these are used in the pick-to-voice system while the remaining units are used for other operations within the facility, such as bulk picking, bulk put away and decanting.
Completed order totes are sent to the Dematic Multishuttle® Captive Buffer, which is designed to dramatically increase speed, accuracy and throughput. The automated system’s intelligent controls enable complex sequencing that contributes to its flexibility and allows Halfords to build store friendly orders as required and can even ensure that the heaviest tote is at the bottom of the stack when they get to a Halfords store.
The simplicity of pick-to-light not only ensures fast and accurate picking but means new pickers can achieve good pick speeds after just an hour’s tutorial. Voice picking gives accuracy and speed benefits for slower moving products at a lower cost. The entire scheme is future proofed, with room for another double deck mezzanine along the side of the DC, which could be linked into the current system.