Tuesday 25th Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Candle maker opts for pick to light

Yankee Candle has improved picking efficiency by 50 per cent at its European distribution centre in Bristol as a result of SSI Schaefer’s paperless pick to light system installation. Picking errors have also been reduced.

The company distributes scented candles and other scented products to retail stores, export organisations and the consumer via the internet. It wanted to improve overall picking accuracy and efficiency by building upon the existing KDR flow racking system previously installed by SSI Schaefer. The racking, designed to hold forward picking stock in more than 1,800 locations, is divided into pick zones in a U-shaped layout with a conveyor running through the centre.

Yankee Candle originally used paper-based picking, but now the KDR flow racking has been enhanced by the addition of SSI Schaefer’s pick to light system.

Bruce Mitchell, operations manager at Yankee Candle, said: “The system has lifted picking efficiency by 50 per cent while significantly increasing the accuracy of the pick. In fact, shipping volumes are up by more than 40 per cent on this time last year while the number of errors is down by over 50 per cent of last year’s figure.”

For packing, the system calculates the sizes and number of cartons required and prints labels in advance with the content. The system is reliant on using a database of carton volumetrics/packing parameters and is enabled when the operator scans the barcode on the carton label. Multiple orders can be consolidated for a single shipment to a customer.

It also enables order progress optimisation. All defined pick zones are able to commence order picking simultaneously, even when a single large order is split across different zones. It relies on operators in each zone picking in the printing sequence of the labels which have been issued to synchronise order progression. For each pick wave the system looks at the distribution of the picks and calculates a zone size for each operator to work in, thereby spreading the number of picks evenly across a maximum of twelve operators.

The system also allows cartons to be scanned and the details of the shipment to be transferred electronically via an interface between the SSI system to any one of five carrier systems in order for the latter to generate its own dispatch documentation.