Hybrid Orderpick Systems
Twice a week Ici Paris XL delivers to 250 perfumeries across the entire Benelux region from its distribution centre located in Vilvoorde, Belgium. The operation uses two techniques in its order assembly processes: Pick to Light for fast moving SKU’s and barcode scanning for the slow moving SKU’s. Pcdata, the supplier of the system, combined both methods to create a completely integrated and highly optimised order picking solution. Thanks to this system, Ici Paris XL are now in full control of the productivity and quality of their order picking operation.
When the current distribution centre in Vilvoorde was first commissioned in 2006, the perfumery first decided to invest in the fast moving segment of its operation: “We were looking for a system, which could enable us to increase both quality and productivity of the order picking process. These are criteria which do not always go together. In the case of capital investments often one is at the expense of the other”, says Danny Roegies, project manager of the retailer.
For the fast moving element of the operation, Pick to Light turned out to be the optimal solution of Ici Paris XL. Two picking ‘streets’ with 12 pick zones each are centrally located within the distribution centre, connected to each other by a central motorised conveyor system. This conveyor transports plastic totes, into which products are picked, automatically to the picking zones where that tote requires product. An order picker in the zone is directed by light displays which product to pick and how many pieces. As each pick is completed, the product is placed in the destination tote and the light displays turned off by pressing the push button on the light display. “We use Pick to Light for products of which we need to pick several pieces a day or often also several pieces per order line. Because these products are located next to each other, a small area with a relatively high number of picks has been created. By minimizing the walking distances for these products, we achieve a high productivity”, says Roegies.
In 2002 Ici Paris XL became part of A.S. Watson which holds over 10.000 health and beauty stores. This triggered a tremendous growth period for the company. In the Benelux region the retailer currently has nearly 250 stores, a number which is still increasing. Concurrently, the product range has also been expanded, increasing the size and complexity of the picking operation: “We have an assortment of 15.000 products, but not every product is stocked in each store. People living at the coast simply buy other products then people living in Antwerpen or Wallonië”, tells Roegies. This rapid growth was one of the key reasons to choose the Pcdata Pick to Light solution. “Because it was un-certain how fast the operation would grow, we had to be prepared for expansions and system changes. With this system this is no problem. Pcdata offers us the required flexibility for the future. Pcdata also has a lot of knowledge and offers the best value for money”, tells Roegies.
In deploying the system, Pcdata was not only responsible for implementing the Pick to Light element of the project, but as main contractor also oversaw the complete implementation including flowracking conveyor system, strapping machines and software. “Thanks to the Pcdata software we are able to constantly control the workload. In the warehouse we have a screen which shows the amount, order lines and crates we already handled and how many we still have to do. As soon as we see that one zone is getting behind, we can react immediately add additional resource to that zone.”