BSN Sports: In a distribution league of its own
Re-imagining existing processes
Since one of the goals was to use existing equipment, many of the most important changes involved a re-imagination of existing processes, says Melton.
“We had an existing single-level pick module that we totally dismantled and rebuilt as a three-story module,” says Melton. “That gave us an additional 1,800 pick faces on each level.”
As part of the conversion, the first and second levels of the mezzanine were built immediately along with the support system for the third level. Shelving was installed on one side of the first level and carton flow rack on the other side.
The second level consisted of carton flow rack on one side and pallet flow rack on the other. Along with the existing floor-level conveyor, a second level powered center take-away conveyor was added. That conveyor system was connected to the original system.
Those changes absorbed the 1,200 SKUs in the makeshift area and provided an additional 2,400 pick faces for future growth. In fact, during the first phase of the project, BSN only built out the second level, but within a few months decided to add the third level. “It’s now half full,” Melton says.
A second important reconfiguration took place in the packing area. Prior to the retrofit, there were 10 packing stations, all on the floor. There was limited space for accumulation conveyor and staging for outbound orders. In addition, after packing, associates had to pick up and place an outbound carton on a scale and then manually place it back onto the outbound conveyor line.
In the new configuration, BSN Sports installed another three-level mezzanine in the packing and shipping area. That relocated pack stations onto the mezzanine. The top level receives incoming totes from the picking modules. The middle level receives cases, and empty totes are returned on the first floor.
Elevating the packing operations increased the room for additional accumulation conveyor and staging. In addition, cases slide from the packing area onto a scale and then are automatically conveyed to shipping. And, associates no longer have to pick up cases. “We’ve created a safer work environment because our packers are away from lift truck traffic,” says Melton. “We’re also able to stage all our orders in the shipping area, including LTL orders. In the past, we might have orders in aisles because we didn’t have room.”
Toward sustainable distribution
Safety and efficiency were important. But, creating a more sustainable distribution center was also important. “We have a few customers who won’t do business with us unless we can demonstrate that we’re green in our business,” says Melton. They focused on three key areas:
Lighting: BSN Sports replaced a 15-year-old lighting system with energy efficient fluorescent bulbs that are delivering more foot candles of lighting with fewer lights in the affected areas. “It has improved the working environment for associates and has cut back on our utility costs,” says Melton.
Transport packaging: BSN Sports replaced paper packaging and peanuts with a machine that produces biodegradable and recyclable air pillows. “The machine is located above the pack station and the material is on rolls,” says Melton. “Our associates just have to reach up and grab what they need for void fill.” Better protection from the new packaging has resulted in fewer freight claims.
Recycling: BSN Sports has been recycling trash since the facility originally opened in 1995. “A pallet management company takes our pallets and our waste management company takes our trash, corrugated and plastics,” says Melton. “At this point, we are no longer paying to have our trash hauled away, and on occasion, we even get money back.”
Two years since the new project went live, Melton declares it a success. “Since the project ended, we have increased our revenue while reducing warehousing as a percentage of revenue,” he says. “We’re getting more productivity, throughput and storage out of the facility with room to grow.”
System integration: TranSystems
Parcel shipping software: Kewill Clippership
Conveyor: TGW Systems
Lift trucks: Raymond
Pallet rack and mezzanine: Unarco
Stretch wrap: Fox Packaging Services
Shipping dunnage: FP International