Sortation upgrade keeps stores fully stocked

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High street retailer Dixons has upgraded its Stevenage national distribution centre (NDC) with a Vanriet UK store delivery sortation system to ensure that its stores’ shelves are fully stocked, particularly at peak times.

Handling a variety of small products such as films, electrical plugs, batteries, cameras and PC peripherals, the new system has increased tote delivery speed to despatch by 85%. Vanriet says the system, which can be expanded easily to cope with double the throughput, has also enabled Dixons to handle increased demand during peak periods “without mishap”.

Dixons opted for the Vanriet sortation system after meeting peak delivery demands a couple of years ago prompted the retailer to call in consultants. Following the consultants’ recommendations, Vanriet was contracted to design and install the new sortation system.

The work was completed without disrupting store deliveries, using equipment installed on a new mezzanine floor. And, in line with Dixons five-year plan, Vanriet recommended installing a full sorter track long enough to double the number of outfeed conveyors as and when required.

Sealable tote bins, measuring 600mm x 500mm x 500mm, can each carry up to 20kg for individual store deliveries. Once filled and sealed, the totes are placed onto a Vanriet powered conveyor next to the pick face. Every tote has a permanent barcode which the picker assigns to a specific branch at the start of the process.

The totes travel to the Vanriet high speed sliding shoe sorter which reads the barcode and directs each item to the correct discharge conveyor. An intelligent control system assesses the volume and position of totes in the system, forecasts production throughput and adjusts the rate of the two-speed sorter, which can operate up to 6,000 items per hour. During peak times, the system handles more than 3,000 totes daily, carrying around 80,000 stock items.

The NDC serves more than 1,000 Dixons, Currys and PC World chains. All the stores receive deliveries at least once a week while 300 will get a double delivery during peak seasons.

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