Polish footwear retailer gives pallets the boot

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Footwear retailer NG2 Group is set to speed up processes, reduce errors and improve its eco-credentials after implementing a TGW automated warehouse system.

The Polish company has a network of 708 stores, including stores under the CCC, Boti and Quazi brands, and was keen to boost efficiency ahead of further growth.

It has invested in a new fully automated distribution centre which is expected to open by the beginning of 2012.

TGW has been tasked with implementing a system which maximises storage capacity and facilitates accurate and effective picking, which still being able to adapt to growth.

NG2 was keen to directly handle cartons throughout the supply chain rather than use a pallet warehouse. “A constant monitoring of the latest trends and the available logistics technologies showed that a solution with an automated warehouse operated by stacker cranes would be the optimum for a comprehensive logistics service in the footwear industry,” explains Mariusz Gnych, NG2’s board vice-president.

The company chose an automated mini-load system designed for smaller packages which will be transported and stored automatically without using pallets and lift trucks.

At goods receiving the cartons are placed on the conveyor system, identified and checked. They are then stored in a fully automated carton warehouse, which is designed to speed up material flow and minimise mistakes.

NG2’s impact on the environment is also expected to be reduced as use of pallets and shrink wrap foils has been eliminated, and as such it has been granted a 40 per cent investment subsidy from the Innovative Economy Program, Activity 4.4.

The process begins when trucks arrive at their designated dock where the doors to the container will be opened and a telescopic conveyor moves into the container onto which the workers unload cartons.

Each carton is weighed and then receives an id label with a barcode all of which is registered in the system.
The cartons then reach the conveyor loop where they go through a control gate which precisely measures the dimensions of the box. If there is an inaccuracy it will be transported to a control station.

After passing the control gate cartons are automatically stored in the warehouse which is operated by stacker cranes. The warehouse management system allocates a space for storage.

Each of the 24 cranes can store and retrieve two cartons at the same time and thanks to TGW’s Twister VCplus load handling device it is able to operate with cartons of very different sizes.

The host system sends the required orders to the warehouse management system. Then goods are sent to the order buffer, where they are released immediately.

The cartons which are transported directly to the shipping zone receive a shipping label and end their route on a telescopic belt conveyor at the door of the trucks. TGW points out that this is the second and the last time the worker has to touch the goods.

The heart of the system will be a mini-load ASRS which will contain five million pairs of shoes, packed in 500,000 cartons of different sizes, ranging from 400 x 400 x 200mm to a maximum size of 660 x 610 x 550mm.

In combination with the existing sorting solution, the new distribution centre will be able to handle up to 60,000 cartons per day in two working shifts.

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