Casebook 2011: Grocery chain implements comprehensive order picking system

Pallet verification system saves U.S.-based grocery store supplier time and money.

By ·

Recent advances in data tracking have enabled warehouses and distribution facilities to monitor inventory at retail points of sale in real time. However, even the most accurate and timely information can’t help an out-of-date order picking process. With new automated package monitoring software and hardware, one grocery store distributor increased efficiency while boosting the accuracy and timeliness of its shipments.

During the order picking process, goods are placed on pallets and verified before being shipped. To help improve the efficiency of this process, one major U.S.-based grocery store chain—with more than 2,500 stores nationwide—implemented an order-picking system. In search of a comprehensive solution, the company chose a provider (Witron, 847-385-6000, http://www.witron.com; SICK, 800-325-7425, http://www.sickusa.com) that plans, designs and implements entire logistics and material flow systems. The company installed a pallet verification system for all in-house supply chain processes, from receiving to shipping. The core technology, the case order machine, allows fully automated and branch-specific preparation of 205,000 commercial units on order pallets per day.

Due to variations in product size and shape, verifying pallets of different heights often requires two separate photoelectric sensors, effectively doubling the price of hardware. In this case, the provider was able to install a single scanner able to reliably detect objects that vary in orientation or height, independent of their position. The sensor can even identify objects up to a distance of 4.5 meters, or nearly 15 feet.

In addition to a large light array, the system requires only one sensor, one connection for the power supply, and one reflector, minimizing installation and commissioning costs. The laser eye itself is equipped with technology that allows increased intervals between cleanings. The switching threshold, which typically decreases due to dust accumulation, maintains a near-constant level.

The system provided quick and easy installation that enabled the grocery store distribution center to save time and money associated with pallet verification.


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior 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.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Your Guide to Voice for the Warehouse
Is voice a good fit for my operation? How would voice work in my warehouse? With the help of the Vitech Guide to Voice, you can find all the answers to your voice questions in one place.
Download Today!
From the October 2017 Modern Materials Handling Issue
An early adopter, Rochester Drug Cooperative is using robotic piece-picking technology to complement picking of slow-moving items. System report for Rochester Drug Cooperative, Robotic picking and inventory management, Innovative distribution center robotics solutions , IAM Robotics case study
Injecting agility into WMS implementation
The Big Picture: Business as Unusual
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The State of the DC Voice Market
A lot has changed in the last 10 years, especially in voice technology. This webinar will cover the state of the voice market, review two leading voice solutions and help you gain a better understanding of the options and capabilities available today.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Rochester Drug Cooperative: Robots ready for work
It’s still early stages, but Rochester Drug Cooperative is proving that mobile robotic piece...
Manufacturing Day: 2,716 events from Hawaii to Alaska to Puerto Rico
Events to be scheduled throughout the month, so the remaining 249,185 manufacturing firms in the...

System Report: Pouch sorter powers Stage’s fulfillment needs
How a hometown department store chain transformed its e-fulfillment processes with pouch sortation...
Cubing and Weighing Equipment: Measure Up
The use of cubing and weighing equipment is growing beyond dimensional weight applications.