John Lewis sees the light

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John Lewis is now able to achieve up to 1,000 picks per man hour after implementing pick-to-light and put-to-light technology from Knapp.

The system was deployed as part of a £25 million automated handling installation at the department store’s 650,000 sq ft national distribution centre at Magna Park in Milton Keynes.

When designing the system, one of the biggest challenges Knapp had to overcome was the fact that store layout varies from branch to branch, as does which product lines belong in which department. Knapp also had to take into account the differing distribution needs of retail stores compared to online and catalogue activity.

The project, which is Knapp’s largest single order in the UK to date, features 8.4km of conveyors and more than a quarter of a million bin storage locations. It includes 13 ASRS cranes, each running in aisles of 78m long by 15m high, which handle slower moving products in totes that are stored double deep. Faster moving goods are stored in 21,000 totes on Knapp’s OSR Shuttle system, with both lines being fed to one of 33 order picking stations.

A second OSR Shuttle system has been installed to act as a buffer store which collates picked totes for delivery to John Lewis’ 29 stores, while a third shuttle was supplied to fulfil online and catalogue orders.

The Magna Park site was designed to meet direct-to-customer orders of up to £300 million per year, but the Knapp system has enabled it to handle £500 million of sales.

Knapp has also helped to reduce surplus stock through its warehouse management software which allows product sales to be reviewed more often.

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