Modernized DC quadruples throughput

Global wine distributor’s new software, picking technologies and sortation system dramatically boost service levels.

By ·

Currently recognized as the fifth-largest winery and the largest vineyard owner in the United States, Bronco Wine Company is a family-owned winery with brands sold in more than 90 countries worldwide. In 2013, the company sought to update its California distribution center to meet growing customer demand. By installing a modernized picking system, the company improved operations and order processing systems.

In the previous system, picking was done by pick-by-paper and using a single-line roller conveyor. It would take about 12 hours to move 3,000 cases through the DC. This would often cause delays in getting drivers on the road, plus provided for less-than-perfect accuracy checks along the system.

First, Bronco wanted a new system to allow for loading multiple trucks in reverse route order. The existing operation had 32 routes needing to be loaded every night off of a single conveyor—time constraints were a real issue. Secondly, the real estate available for the new system was limited in size due to the desire to build a columnless DC. There would be no room available for staging orders and loading would need to be done dynamically or “on the fly.”

Lastly, Bronco requested that picking be done solely by SKU as opposed to using unique identifiers. A new warehouse management system (Invar Systems, invarsystems.com) was implemented to allow Bronco to streamline order downloads, minimize picking errors and enhance inventory control.

With the construction planned and underway of a new eight-dock door DC on the property in Ceres, Calif., Bronco deployed a mechanized picking and sortation system (FloStor Engineering, flostor.com). The new system consists of a three-level pick module with pickers using radio frequency bar code readers synced with the warehouse management system. Cases are moved from the first and second level of the pick module on a belt spiral conveyor (Hytrol, hytrol.com) and merge with the third level cases. The system sorts product to one of six fluid load truck lanes and one of three manual palletizing lanes, which now allows for the loading of nearly 6,000 cases in five hours.

With the increased speed of order fulfillment, Bronco has now been able to extend their sales window. Order accuracy has increased to 99.8%.

“Post-installation support has been good,” says Byron Baker, distribution manager at Bronco Wine. “It’s nice when you feel that even though the system is running they are always there to answer questions or bounce ideas off of.”


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.

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