Waverley Vintners, which supplies wines and spirits to the licensed trade, says the new custom-built conveyor system installed at its 12,000sq m Hemel Hempstead warehouse has “dramatically improved” the efficiency and accuracy of order picking.
The warehouse, which distributes to public houses, clubs, restaurants and hotels throughout the South-east, stocks about 2,000 product lines and despatches 12,000 cases on average a day – 15% of the cases contain mixed products.
Waverley opted for the new conveyor, supplied by European Conveyor Systems (ECS), because continuing sales growth meant it was finding it difficult to meet delivery deadlines with the old order picking system, which involved the use of picking trucks – orders were carried around the warehouse on the trucks and staff often travelled long distances to pick a small number of items.
The company also wanted to minimise returns by increasing picking accuracy.
Waverley has now designated two separate areas in the warehouse for full cases and split cases. The full cases are handled by forklift trucks while the ECS conveyor looks after the split cases.
In the split case area, orders are picked into cartons carried on plastic trays barcoded with each individual order number. Scanners on the conveyor read the number and the system then coordinates it with the order details held on the warehouse computer, and automatically sends the tray to the zones where the required products are held.
Once the order is complete, cartons are then conveyed to a pre-defined packing bench where they are checked to ensure the orders have been completed correctly. After sealing and labelling at the packing benches, the conveyor delivers the cartons to a pre-marshalling area where they join full cases from the main part of the warehouse for sorting into loads for despatch.