European outdoor specialist retailer adds automation

Company once scrambling to keep up lets the DC do the work by itself.

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European outdoor specialist retailer Jack Wolfskin had grown by more than 20% every year, and the company’s warehousing and logistics systems were bursting at the seams. When the company built a new facility, it deployed an automated distribution center with innovative storage and order picking systems.

The new logistics center, located near Hamburg, Germany, completely relies on direct carton handling—pallets, trays, or other additional load carriers are not needed. The automatic carton warehouse stores the delivered cartons directly in the triple-depth storage in a 12-aisle warehouse with 210,000 storage locations. The goods are conveyed to the order picking zones, where the system fully directs the order picking process. Items can be moved and stored in multiple locations to speed up order fulfillment.

From the order-picking process, orders can be redirected to manual laborers for post-processing, such as labeling, repacking, special documenting and possibly ironing or other preparations according to customer requirements. Displays inform the workers what carton needs what special attention, and finished cartons are transferred back onto the conveyor.

Finally, all cartons are covered with a lid, automatically strapped, and labeled for shipping.

The new automated distribution center also led to extensive changes in the organization and to a complete replacement of the company’s IT system. The solutions provider ensured that all the systems worked well together. According to Christian Brandt, Jack Wolfskin’s CFO and head of logistics, the change was a quantum leap.

“Our provider managed to guide us out of the Stone Age into the modern era of logistics,” says Brandt, who adds the best part of the project was that none of his customers noticed. “Although, to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting that.”


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About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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