Stationery on the move at Office Depot

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To accommodate this variety of fast and slow-moving lines, a range of storage and order picking methods were co-ordinated by Knapp to form the integrated handling system at the facility. As well as limited manual picking, the solution includes fully automatic picking by A-frames and semi-automatic picking using a range of methods including an intelligent conveyor system and Knapp’s OSR system, both featuring pick-by-light technology.

All orders for each day’s picking are grouped by the computer system into waves, based on destination and travel distances. This information is passed to the Knapp KiSoft Control, Transport & Pick-by-Light software suite for the implementation of the orders. All picked goods are routed by barcode information carried on the delivery label to the dispatch bay sortation system.

Large cartonised goods are picked from delivery pallets stored on gravity rollers in a racking system with picking walkways on three levels. Each item is picked against a locally printed carton label that is fixed to the product prior to it being placed on a central conveyor, which transports it directly to the dispatch area. Small fast-moving lines are picked fully automatically by ‘A’ frames featuring a stepped belt system. Larger fast-moving goods are picked by light into one of three sizes of cardboard carton, which are erected automatically and fed to the order launch zone by conveyor.

A bar-coded delivery label is automatically applied to the carton and the customer’s documentation is printed and fed into the carton. The Knapp conveyor system, which is over 3,000 metres long, transports each carton only to those parts of the system where items for that particular order are stored, thus eliminating congestion in the transport system. Items are picked from the delivery outers which are stored above the driven conveyor in gravity-fed racking.

Slower-moving lines are stored in Knapp’s automatic Order Storage and Retrieval system (OSR). Here, goods are stored in plastic totes within a lightweight racking system. Each level of each aisle of the OSR features a shuttle car that both retrieves and puts away trays of bins. These shuttles interface with an elevator at the front of the aisle, which supplies the trays to an integrated conveyor system that transports them to pick stations featuring pick-by-light and put-to-light technology. The operator is directed to pick specific items from the tote and place them in the now adjacent order carton. By combining AS/RS with pick-by-light technology, OSR can provide up to 1000 picks per man-hour. When an order is complete, the conveyor system passes the carton through dunnage, lidding and strapping stations prior to delivering it to one of 38 discharge ramps by means of sorter systems.

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