Productivity Solution: Pick Module Replenishment
March 01, 2010 - MMH Editorial
Nordisk Bog Center A/S (NBC) is a leading book distributor in Denmark and part of Gyldendal, Denmark’s oldest and largest book publishing house. The operation distributes 22,000 unique book titles and related items through three different channels—retail stores, teaching institutions, and direct to customers.
To modernize its mechanized equipment and keep pace with evolving market demands, NBC installed a new materials handling system (Dematic, 877-725-7500, http://www.dematic.us). The comprehensive solution, which includes a scalable multi-shuttle automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) and a voice-directed order fulfillment system, brings together NBC’s three different process flows into a single system.
“The market is changing from relatively few large orders to many small orders,” explains Jan Jensen, NBC director. “This was the main business case for our investment.” As a result, NBC has achieved improved process flow, lowered operating costs, and a reduced system footprint. It has also reduced the staff required to fill orders while enabling dramatically higher replenishment rates.
The order picking process begins when an order carton is created. It’s automatically directed to specified picking zones only where picks are required, streamlining order flow. A voice-directed order fulfillment system instructs workers at each pick zone while the mini-load shuttle AS/RS handles replenishment.
The AS/RS consists of a multi-level rack structure, carrier vehicles, conveyors and software integration. Each level includes input/output and a carrier vehicle that travels horizontally to access stored loads. An extraction device on the carrier vehicle accesses the load then brings it to the end of the aisle where a vertical lift delivers it to the conveyor. Having a carrier vehicle captive in each aisle allows for ultra-high throughput.
Pick module replenishment occurs when product cases are retrieved from storage and inserted into the back of the pick face. The AS/RS automates the labor intensive task of replenishment and improves ergonomics.