Carousels boost efficiency rates

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The craze for mobile phones and all their must-have fashion accessories no show no sign of abating. On average we are keeping mobiles for less than a year before trading them in for a new model with even more gadgets. Which is good news for The Carphone Warehouse, whose sales last Christmas were at more than 40% above target.

However, the company can only achieve rowth of this kind if its 500 stores receive excellent service from the national logistics centre in Wednesbury, from which the entire product range of about 3,500 items is despatched. With every operation under scrutiny to achieve maximum efficiency, the company has installed six Diamond Phoenix horizontal carousels to handle picking of all product accessories.

The Carphone Warehouse’s head of warehouse operations, Shaun Tymon, says efficiency rates have rocketed: “We have gone from 50 lines per hour per operator to more than 200 lines per hour, including scan verification of pick and data capture. And we have saved an absolute mountain of space. Instead of single order picking, one store at a time, we are picking 12 stores at a time. This means there is a significant reduction in the number of times we visit a specific storage location, which in turn increases picking efficiencies massively.”

The warehouse picks orders daily for about 200 stores split into 22 routes covering the country. Each route has a specific number and the Diamond software allows Carphone Warehouse to pick orders by priorities, making sure the most distant routes are fulfilled first. The whole accessory product range of about 600 items is split across six carousels, configured in three pods. A pick and pass system is operated, where every order starts at pod one. Two carousels make up one pod.

Tymon says: “We download a batch of orders from our host system through the Diamondware interface. The operator then scans in up to four totes in the workstation associating an order with a particular tote. The carousels rotate to the first pick location, the pick to light system indicates the shelf level, position and quantity to be picked for the entire batch of four orders. Once the operator has picked the displayed quantity they are directed by a light display above each tote where to place the picked items.

“The whole system is replenished through the night so we can pick from 8am to 10pm five days a week. We have maintained our picking accuracy rate of 99.8%, which is

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