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The Apparel Group adds automation, crossdocking to new facility

At the Apparel Group’s new Texas distribution center, the company reduced handling costs and increased the speed of product to market—two items that are always in style.
July 20, 2010

When The Apparel Group Ltd. (TAG) sat down to design a new distribution center, it had two goals in mind.

One was to create an automated materials handling system that would get the job done with the least number of touches and the lowest possible handling cost.  Another was to build strategically by locating the facility in an area that would complement TAG’s West Coast cross-docking operations, allow its sales people to better serve its customers across the country and improve its customer service levels, especially the speed to market.

The 158,000-square-foot DC at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Lewisville, Texas, near Dallas, is a fashion success on both counts, says Kirk Longo, vice president of supply chain for the manufacturer, which also distributes men’s and women’s private label and branded clothing to retailers like Dillards, Kohl’s, Nordstroms and Lord & Taylor.

“This was a brand new facility that allowed us to build to suit our needs,” says Longo. “We were able to design a fulfillment center that meets our customers’ demand for smaller orders across the broad spectrum of SKUs we provide, maintain a high accuracy rate and do it with a lower cost per item of handling than at our previous facility in Kentucky. This was a team effort that required the skill of operations, engineering and information technology.”

Working with a systems integrator (Worldsource, 630-795-1100, http://www.world-source.com), TAG implemented the first phase of the materials handling system in 2008, featuring:
• high-speed conveyor and sortation system,
• garment-on-hanger handling system and
• RF- and pick-to-light picking technologies.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.