Vanderlande plays the game

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Specialist video-game retailer Game Stores chose Vanderlande’s cross-belt sorter to help boost productivity by making picking operations faster, more flexible and accurate.

Tony Lewin, head of logistics for Games Stores, says the company needed to remove its resource dependency, which had been its biggest problem at peak demand. “We needed to increase shift patterns and had begun to struggle with volume as we were competing with other local employers such as Royal Mail.

“We wanted a system that could expand and give us flexibility. We knew we shouldn’t try to pick everything the same way but look at the most efficient methods for each product category.”

The Vanderlande system comprises key sortation technology, fully automated miniload storage and retrieval, automated handling, the overall warehouse management system that controls the batch picking process, and manual and automated operations on the site.

The 143 metre cross belt sorter can handle large quantities of small items, which it feeds to 202 chutes. Bar-coded products are read at high speed after induction onto the sorter, then directed to a chute or sorted to a reject spur for barcode misreads and picking errors.

The system has also helped the company iron out complications to do with product returns. “If we need to redistribute product we now just feed it into the sortation system and let it do all the hard work,” says Lewin. “The previous operation was manually intensive and there was a physical limit to the number of returns which could be processed. The new system removes that barrier.”

The system has been designed to cope with future expansion, and could handle two additional induct stations, which would increase throughput capacity by more than 30 per cent.

The retailer’s new site has ten per cent less floor space than its previous one, but with Vanderlande’s system, can hold double the volume.

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