Beverage distributor implements conveyor and sortation system

Beverage distributor implements a conveyor and sortation system to process 200,000 bottles a day out of two Michigan warehouses.

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When the liquor distribution network was privatized in Michigan, National Wine & Spirits became one of three authorized distribution agents to receive deliveries from producers, warehouse the liquor, accept and reconcile orders from more than 12,000 licensees and make approximately 8,000 weekly deliveries. 

More than 350 suppliers of wine and spirits sell their products to National Wine & Spirits. The company distributes more than 7,000 products through a master warehouse in Brownstown, Mich., and a hyper-terminal in Grand Rapids.

National worked with a supplier (W&H Systems, whsystems.com) to automate the master warehouse and hyper-terminal. High-speed conveyors and sortation systems handle thousands of cases per hour. All of the slower-moving full case and bottle SKUs are picked in Brownstown and loaded onto the trucks so that when they get to Grand Rapids, they can be properly sequenced with the Grand Rapids goods.

“As our business in Michigan has evolved and grown, technology has played a major role in managing the costs of distribution and obtaining efficiencies within our warehouses,” said John Baker, COO of National Wine & Spirits.

The system features a very large split case holding system that holds more than 5,000 split cases that are queued up around the clock, then released in sequence with the full case in the evening when it is time to load the trucks. A warehouse control system manages all the equipment and activities, including order fulfillment from two buildings and one consolidated delivery to the end customer.


About the Author

Noel P. Bodenburg
Noël P. Bodenburg, executive managing editor, has been with Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News since 2006. She is a graduate of Boston University. Prior to joining the Supply Chain Group magazines, Noël worked as a production and managing editor at other industry business-to-business publications.

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