Coca-Cola sees 18pc increase in DC throughput

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Coca-Cola Enterprises has increased throughput by 18 per cent at its Northampton distribution centre after implementing Lanner’s Witness simulation software.

The company, which makes, sells and delivers Coca-Cola drinks in the UK, has also avoided extra capital expenditure and off-site storage costs of around £1.7 million.

CCE’s customers include retailers, wholesale suppliers, the licensed trade and leisure and workplace operators. It is the largest manufacturer of Coca-Cola products – which include Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Oasis, Powerade and Abbey Well water – outside the US.

In the summer of 2009, CCE decided to look at ways to increase throughput and turnaround time in its Northampton hub. It chose Lanner’s simulation software for the project and set up a project team internally to work with Lanner consultants to identify areas for improvement.

The Northampton site is CCE’s main depot for receiving manufactured goods from its factory in Milton Keynes. Products are delivered by the truckload and broken down in a warehouse for assembly into mixed pallets for delivery across the country.

Products are delivered by CCE’s own trucks or by third party logistics companies, who book trucks into parking bays at the depot in line with their own delivery schedules.

Lanner, working alongside the drinks company, built a series of simulations based on real data from the business that demonstrated the effect of adding an extra lane for inbound traffic, then an extra lane plus a parking bay for inspections, then a variety of scenarios such as different time periods of the day, a week or several weeks.

The models were designed to show the pinch points around the gatehouse under different conditions, and allow CCE to make the appropriate investment to alleviate congestion.

The second phase of the project looked parking facilities at the depot. Trucks arriving with full loads were first directed to a bay at the warehouse, where trailers are decoupled and unloaded, then to one of 66 parking bays to pick up their next pre-loaded trailer.

James Maciver, project manager at CCE, says: “We needed to increase the number of parking bays at the depot so that we could meet the requirements of our own supply chain and of 3PLs, who have their own schedule to meet – often needing to drop off and leave within 15 minutes.”

The Lanner team worked with CCE to build simulation models that took account of variables such as traffic flows, shift patterns, time of the day and different trucks and load configurations. The models allowed CCE to work out the optimum conditions for handling the target number of trucks and loads expected by the depot.

As part of this process, Lanner built video representations of how trucks would move through the gatehouse to the warehouse and into designated parking bays. Along with Powerpoint presentations showing schematic layouts of proposed changes.

Experimentation by CCE and Lanner using the validated model highlighted the changes that CCE should make to accommodate the increase in bulk volume on site.

Through experimentation with the Witness models and video simulations, CCE and Lanner were able to ascertain the optimum mix of extra lanes, bays and parking spaces that would be required to cope with extra bulk volume.

CCE and Lanner collected data in June 2010 after the recommendations were implemented and compared it with data that was previously collected in June 2009. Analysis of these two data sets revealed an increase in bulk product volume handled by the site of 18 per cent and no increase in turnaround time.

Maciver adds: “Simulation allows you take a much better view of the current situation and to experiment with different variables and scenarios. The videos were particularly useful for demonstrating the effects of changes in different variables at different times of the day.

“Above all, we were able to identify bottlenecks and constraints in the processes on-site both under current conditions and following an increase in activity. We could test out either physical or operational changes prior to implementation, then roll out (costly) physical changes to the site when we were confident that they would produce the expected benefits. This meant that we were able to avoid capital expenditure on facilities that were not required and also increased throughput by at least 18 per cent with no impact on turnaround time. It translates into a cost/capital saving of more than £1.7 million.”


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