Conveyor is perfect fit for clothing retailer
September 17, 2010 - MMH Editorial
Some retailers bank on steep markdowns to move merchandise. Christopher & Banks, a retailer of specialty women’s apparel with 789 stores in 46 states, strives to keep customers coming back with frequent additions of new clothing on the racks. Faced with aging equipment, a paper picking system and an inefficient work flow, maintaining a steady flow of product had become a challenge. The Plymouth, Minn.-based company determined that upgrades were needed to continue to support just in time delivery and direct-to-consumer fulfillment operations.
The 200,000-square-foot DC was retrofitted with a semi-automated fulfillment process that eliminates manual lifting and floor clutter, and provides a safer, quieter solution.
“This DC has been transformed from a dark, inefficient building into a much more vibrant workplace,” says Mike Tripp, vice president of supply chain and logistics. “By the end of the project we had in our possession a cleaner and more efficient operation that increased associate safety, productivity and morale, along with an impressive return on investment.
Once individual store orders are complete, cartons are now pushed onto a central take-away belt conveyor to a two-level motor driven roller conveyor (Intelligrated, 877-315-3400, http://www.intelligrated.com). Featuring run-on-demand independent zones and zero-pressure accumulation, this conveyor reduces wear and energy usage, eliminates product jams and allows for the entire length of the conveyor to be filled. Order picking continues independently of shipping activity. Cartons continue to a central merge and sorter where they are routed to one of three shipping lanes. On each shipping lane, cartons are automatically sealed, then weighed and labeled at a workstation and conveyed directly into a trailer at the shipping dock doors.
The system achieved an ROI in 10 months. The company increased productivity in the shipping department by 160% and reduced labor requirements. They improved turn-time by 50%, increased accuracy to 99.9%, increased shipping productivity by 160%, and reduced noise and ergonomics concerns.