System Report: Order fulfillment at Dimerc Office
In its Santiago distribution center, Chile’s largest distributor of office supplies uses a three-level pick module, light-directed picking, conveyor and a high-speed shipping sorter to get orders out the door.
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Square Footage: 216,000 square feet (20,000 square meters)—one 100,000+ square foot area is devoted to Dimerc Office while the other is devoted to fulfillment of orders for Dimeiggs.
Products Handled: Integrated office supplies (Dimerc Office)
SKUS: 6,000 SKUs of office supplies plus an additional 20,000 SKUs for supplier drop shipments
Throughput: 6,000 cartons per hour
Shifts: 1 extended shift (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) 5 days per week in order fulfillment; 3 shifts, 5 days per week, receiving, putaway and shipping
Accurate and flexible order fulfillment is at the heart of the design of Dimerc Office’s state-of-the-art distribution center in Santiago. For one, the company’s fulfillment promise is that it will deliver the right products to the right customer at the right time. As such, quality control is paramount. At the same time, the facility has to handle a variety of products, product sizes and order sizes, which could range from an order for a single ballpoint pen to a carton of items to a full pallet.
Unit picking is done in a three-level pick module connected by conveyor. The levels are dedicated by movement: Fast-moving items are picked from pallets and a light-directed area on the ground (1) and third levels (3), while the second level (2) is dedicated to slow moving items directed by RF scanning. Pickers use a pick-and-pass system. Shipping cartons are inducted into the system on the ground level, where larger items that need to be on the bottom of the carton are picked. From there, the carton is conveyed to the third level, where the fastest-moving items are picked by light. Last, a carton is sent to the second level, where associates scan slower-moving items into the carton. Once an order is picked complete, the carton is inducted back onto the main conveyor.
Items and orders are scanned throughout the process to ensure accuracy. Orders for a new customer are conveyed to the quality control area for an inspection to make sure the order is correct. Orders with items that are difficult to count may also be sent to quality control for verification.
Once an order has been verified, or if no quality check is required, it is sent to a packing area. The carton is sealed, labeled and conveyed to the high-speed shipping sorter that feeds 21 shipping lanes.
Carton and pallet picking
Cartons or full pallets are picked from pallet and carton storage areas. Pallets are taken directly to shipping. Cartons may be picked to pallet on an orderpicker and then inducted onto the conveyor system. Or, they may be picked to belt in a two-level carton pick area. Either way, once the cartons are on the conveyor, they are sent to the shipping sorter and then sorted to the right door.
About the AuthorBob Trebilcock Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.
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