Accelerating goods-out and goods-in

Rather than continue to manually sort returns in its picking warehouse, Hermes Fulfillment looked to shuttle technology to increase efficiency and accuracy.
By Josh Bond, Senior Editor
October 02, 2012 - MMH Editorial

Hermes Fulfillment, an integrated fulfillment services provider, manages a range of 600,000 products, processing around 260 million items each year. One of the challenging processes for many companies is the core competence of Hermes: returns management. Rather than continue to manually sort returns in its picking warehouse, the company looked to shuttle technology to increase efficiency and accuracy.

The new system manages tasks ranging from acceptance of returns to product preparation, storage, staging and repackaging. Returns are delivered in mixed returns containers, stacked on carts. Upon arrival, the containers are automatically unstacked and conveyed to the shuttle staging area. Up to 10 different items are stored in one container. Up to 2,000 such mixed containers can be stored in the system per hour.

The system accelerates the processes between goods-in and goods-out. For specialized product returns, a central touchscreen monitor located at the workstation can give the operator an overview of all procedures. The warehouse management system is also able to allocate any available item in the returns system to a customer’s order. This further boosts fulfillment speeds so that orders placed on one day are, at the latest, ready-for-shipping the next.

The new automatic returns management system has a storage capacity of 1 million items in approximately 176,000 storage locations across 30 rack lines. Most products remain in the system for only a few hours. Utilizing up to 30 workstations on two levels, up to 15,000 items per hour are processed during peak times.

KNAPP Logistics Automation

Read more from the 2013 Casebook.

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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