Tesco plans to open a second Dot Com Only Store (DCOS) at Greenford next year following the success of the first site at Aylesford in Kent, which is having a quick payback time, freeing up in-store retail space and enabling faster growth of online sales.
Orders coming in from the web site were previously processed in Tesco stores in the area. Personal shoppers hand-picked products directly from store shelves, which were then delivered by small fleets of vans based at the stores.
Tesco needed to reduce the impact of the dot-com operation in certain stores at the same time addressing space constraints for the van numbers in particular geographic areas, with a store-based order fulfilment model, and as a result, looked at the potential for a dedicated facility.
Tesco selected Vanderlande Industries to supply the materials handling system for Aylesford DCOS. As well as the system for the order consolidation process, Vanderlande supplied the system for the release and sortation of the consolidated orders to the delivery vans. Vanderlande systems also control the vehicle dispatch management process.
Other benefits of the system include improved accuracy, traceability and a reduction in product damage.
Valderlande is also supplying the system for Greenford, which will be a direct copy of the Aylesford system, which went live in October 2008. Greenford will become operational in 2010.
At the start of the day, order details and van schedules are downloaded from the Tesco Host to the Vanderlande control system. Stock in the dedicated “store” is laid out exactly like a supermarket, except that the “customers” are replaced by order picking staff.
Pickers pick product from shelving into plastic customer order crates held on trolleys. A picker can pick up to six customer orders simultaneously, spread across van routes.
Completed orders are brought to a manually loaded infeed line, which takes the crates to a consolidation buffer mounted on a platform. Underneath the platform offices and warehouse space have been created, making efficient use of building space.
The consolidation buffer consists of a three-aisle Quickstore HDS AS/RS system. Each aisle is split into two vertical modules, equipped with six shuttles per aisle (18 shuttles in total). Each shuttle can access three levels of shelving. The customer order crates are spread throughout the HDS consolidation buffer and held until a predefined release time of complete delivery van loads.
When empty vans are assigned and directed to a loading bay, the driver will indicate the van’s presence to the HDS to initiate release of all ambient orders destined for that van. The HDS will release crates to be sorted and loaded in reverse drop sequence. On exit from the site the van is scanned and that load deleted from the system.
Tesco also awarded Vanderlande a 24/7 on-site maintenance and support agreement for the next five years.