Ebuyer’s web site offers customers more than 15,000 products ranging from plasma TVs and laptops to computer components and software.
Previously the company’s warehousing facilities had been spread across three sites in the north of the country. To improve the accuracy and efficiency of its deliveries Ebuyer made the decision to bring all of the warehousing facilities together by investing in a new, state- of-the-art, head office and distribution centre at Howden, East Yorkshire.
The challenge for Ebuyer’s operations director, Armando Sanchez, was to find a partner to supply the perfect pallet racking solution for the distribution centre which has a footprint of 280,000 sq ft.
“In my selection process there were several criteria to be filled,” he says. “Financial stability was important, together with a ‘can-do’ attitude and, as our employee safety is of paramount importance, a product that provided an extremely safe working environment.”
Sanchez found the solution at Milton Keynes based Linpac Storage Systems. “Linpac’s wasn’t the cheapest storage solution, but it was definitely the best,” he says.
For security reasons, the high tech warehouse has its own separate entrance for warehouse staff with a biometric door entry system.
Once inside the warehouse the sophisticated storage solution allows products to flow through the warehouse from bulk storage in a VNA racking system at the goods inwards end to picking and packing from picking towers at the goods outwards end. Cantilever pick and deposit stations at each end of the VNA racking assist the safe handling of the 12,000 pallets into and out of the system.
Rising up to 12m high, there are seven beam levels of bulk storage with two pallets per bay. A rack supported gantry, situated at 11m high, runs down the side of the VNA system and is used as a maintenance platform and inspection run.
Above goods inwards a 6m mezzanine houses the photographic department together with health and safety, quality control and returns. A second mezzanine has been positioned at the opposite end of the warehouse, above goods outwards. This suspended mezzanine is used to pick and process small items.
All the way through the pick process product selection is computer controlled with smaller orders picked via voice activation or “pick to light”. Every detail of each order is cross referenced and double-checked as it passes through a barrage of scales and scanners on its way down the conveyors to a designated postcode lane for courier collection.
Large items are stored in the three-tiered picking towers which have the capacity to store up to 4,500 pallets. The top two levels are used for manual picking using a man-safe system of full harness hook-up. Each picking lane has two picking locations, one on each side of an integral rack supported conveyor. The ground level of the picking towers is used for bulk storage.
“We were impressed by the high level of service that Linpac Storage Systems gave us,” says Sanchez. “Everything went to plan and the distribution centre became operational two months ahead of schedule.
“Our aim with the new facility was to enhance the buying experience of our customers by raising our efficiency levels. We have achieved that through our dedicated workforce and investment in the most sophisticated storage, handling and picking facilities.”