Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Cosmetics company goes down the automation route

Cosmetics company Clarins has seen growth in demand of some 20 per cent since it opened its 38,000 sq m distribution centre at Pontoise near Paris. As a result the company took the decision to relocate its logistics function.

Clarins chose Amiens for the new location and acquired a 12 hectare site, with space for a new 27,000 sq m facility and the room to double it in size if required. The internal storage and order fulfilment system and software were designed and installed by Savoye, a leading European supplier of turnkey warehouse systems.

The Amiens distribution centre houses a 28m high automated pallet store covering 6,500 sq m on 11 levels, served by Savoye’s Magmatic unmanned pallet storage and retrieval system with a capacity of 28000 pallets.

Orders are raised by Movex – Clarins’ own software system – and downloaded onto Savoye Logistics LM software which launches the order preparation instructions according to the date, method of shipment and other parameters. Full pallets are taken directly by fork lift truck to dispatch while others are destined for order picking zones on the upper floors.

Order fulfilment is carried out in two zones covering a total of 9,500 sq m, one for full cartons, and the other for split carton picking. The system operates on a FIFP basis but can be adapted if required. Live pallet storage is used to feed the full carton picking area, which uses a photoelectric cell to release each pallet to the picking face and to send an order to the warehouse to replenish the aisle.

Alternatively, cartons from the pallets can be used to feed carton live storage racks, following the order launch instructions from the system. The pallets first pass over a control table and when the instruction document is scanned, a picking order is issued for a specific number of parcels. The operator follows the pick order and places the cartons in one of 850 different locations, making sure that the bar code data tallies with the designated location. Pallets are then reloaded, returned to stock and the remaining cartons checked. Carton picking is carried out in waves, as the system works out how many and of which types are needed for the next day’s shipment. It also issues carton labels in the correct picking sequence to save operatives time when working in the two packing aisles along the 130m long conveyor track.

The bar code routeing ticket holds full product data – reference, weight, quantities and destination – needed to process each item through the system to dispatch. At the end of the track an automatic reader carries out a further weight check, with potential errors being diverted for manual checking. Confirmed loads are conveyed to the ground floor where they are directed down one of 22 sorting lanes.

The picking area for retail cartons comprises 28 picking stations in three conveyor circuits totalling some 400m of track. The Savoye PAC 600 carton system launches up to nine cartons per minute, with the picking list inside. Each carton is weighed as it enters the first conveyor loop and at subsequent stages to check for accuracy. As the carton reaches each picking station it is either directed into the station or continues on its way, controlled by an optical directing system which takes data from the bar code. Each operative picks the required item from the list, using an automatic check-picker which cross checks the item picked with the picking list bar code and the item scanned.

Each order is cross-checked for 100 per cent accuracy by both weight and product reference, with identical checks completed throughout the process. Once the order is completed the PAC 600 automatically shrink-wraps the goods using a heat-sealed film, places a lid on the carton and seals it securely before it is sent to the ground floor dispatch. Bernard Pagneux, director of Clarins Logistique, says: “We have already seen an improvement in productivity of 20 per cent due to improved visibility of potential bottlenecks and the ability that the Savoye software system gives us to adjust our planning hold-ups.”