Pcdata modernises and optimises logistics process
EUROPE’S largest retailer of vitamins and herbal food supplements once again chose Pcdata, the expert Dutch Logistics Analysts, to modernise and expand their “Pick to Light” order handling system at their main UK Burton on Trent distribution centre.
Nature’s Bounty NBTY is a global supplier of nutritional supplements with 650 Holland & Barrett shops in the UK and over 100 De Tuinen stores in the Netherlands. Their distribution Director, Mark Kendrick reflected on the excellent service experience they had enjoyed with Pcdata over the years since their first system was installed at the turn of the century. He referred to the NBTY mission statement “highest quality products on time, first time, every time”. ‘The Pcdata “Pick to Light” system is the most crucial component of our Logistics process where a system stoppage just cannot be tolerated.’
The “Pick to Light” system is used to select orders for single items for their stores, whereas they use Voice Picking for the simpler picking of web orders and bulk picking (large items and full cartons).
There was a 5 week window to complete the installation. With the exception of the flow racks Pcdata as System Integrator, replaced all the old hardware. The Pcdata solution has the advantage that it can be implemented onto older existing racking. With in-depth knowledge of the Holland & Barrett operation, Pcdata optimised their processes at the same time upgrading “Distrib PTL”, the order picking software, to the latest version with a view to handling their plans for future growth. The number of picking zones was expanded from 24 to 28 with the capacity to handle almost 4000 SKU’s at single item level, up from their previous level of 3300 different items.
This major installation programme was minutely detailed and closely monitored on an hourly basis. These preparations paid off with a smooth implementation which their customers did not even notice.
As their System Integrator Pcdata optimised the logistics process by incorporating further new features. An integrated lid-closing machine, an automated in-line label applicator and a sorting unit for all picked orders were introduced replacing hitherto manual operations saving time and streamlining the process. Once collected in the order picking zones on the mezzanine, the order cartons are conveyed on belts to the ground floor and sorted into different trolleys prior to transport to the stores.
Pcdata’s sorting system shoots the order totes automatically onto the correct chute. Ten trolleys, enough for 10 stores, are filled per chute. After scanning an order carton, a display lights up above the correct trolley telling the operator which store the order should go to.
The display indicates the status of the order. When completed the trolley is replaced and a new order released by the “Pick to Light” system. Only those orders for which locations have been allocated in the sorting zone on the ground floor are collected by the system.
Reflecting on the successful conclusion of this very large project, Mark Kendrick said “six permanent staff members have been reduced to two. Walking distances have been dramatically reduced with the work area much smaller, and we now have a markedly more structured system.”