Fulfilment Solutions will start using new revolutionair order picking system

Fulfilment Solutions will start using, the order picking system AutoStore, in February 2014. Ten robots will ensure that two order pickers can realize up to 500 picks per hour.  Fulfilment Solutions, part of the logistics provider CTS Group, will put the system in the processing for online stores as Mconomy and Manta. Managing director Steven Kersbergen:  “With AutoStore we let our customers know that we can take care of their logistics better than our competitors.”

Fulfilment Solutions is growing rapidly. In 2011 the company started with six employees, and meanwhile this has become four times as much. They collect, pack and ship between 1000 and 7000 order lines per day for customers as Mconomy, distributor of mobile communications products, and Manta Design, distributor of gift items.

The rapid growth ensures that the existing logistics operation based on shelving and barcode scanning is no longer compatible. “Our pickers are now seventy percent of their time walking from one to the other pick location. That should be better. The AutoStore from Lalesse delivers the efficiencies we are looking for and is also very compact and flexible, “says Steven Kersbergen, managing director of Fulfilment Solutions.

Ten robots for 13,000 containers
The AutoStore system from Fulfilment Solutions counts 13,000 plastic totes, stacked in an aluminum frame on an area of 750 square meters.  On top of the framework there are 10 robots driving and delivering the totes stored inside the frame to the workstations, of the system.  At the workstation the correct number of items is picked, and placed into the shipping boxes. So it is no longer the order pickers that walk to the get the items needed, but the robots that bring the items to the pickers.

Specially, the system is placed on a mezzanine floor in the warehouse of parent company CTS. The height of the system is therefore limited to nine bins, while the AutoStore system could build to sixteen totes in height. Kersbergen: “In this way we can utilize the space in our warehouse optimally. That we do not use the maximum height of the system means that the bins are distributed over a larger area. This has the advantage that the high runners will be in the top 2 layers most of the time, and the robots do not have to dig that deep.”

A pick every seven seconds
The system is installed with a total of four ports. Two of these ports are carousel ports, which mean that separate channels are used for the supply and removal of totes.  The other two are conveyor ports which have one channel for both the delivery and pick-up of totes.  All ports are equipped with touch screens, label printers and barcode scanners. The barcode scanner is used as an additional check during order picking.

The fast carousel ports are only used as picking stations. The conveyor ports are intended for replenishing the stock and insert back the returned goods. At peak times, the conveyors ports can also be used as a picking station. “Already with the two carousel ports only we can reach our 500 picks per hour target. This means that we will realize a pick every 7 seconds.  At the moment this is still at 23 to 27 seconds, “says Kersbergen.

Compared different systems
The choice of AutoStore came after an extensive investigation by Bob Oudshoorn, a student at the University of Amsterdam. He compared different order picking systems with each other, including voice picking, pick-to -light, miniloads, shuttles and a sorter coupled with batch picking. “We have discovered AutoStore for the first time at the trade fair Logistica in 2012. Assuming a growth in the number of order lines showed that invest in AutoStore ultimately is the most suitable one for the CTS Group”, according to Kersbergen.

At the end of October 2013, Lalesse has started the construction of the system. Besides the AutoStore system, the project also includes the installation of two small gravity conveyors for the supply of empty shipping boxes and a roller conveyor for removal of full shipping boxes. Two spiral-chutes ensure the supply of bulk stock and the removal of shipping boxes. During February the entire system is taken into operation.

Distinguished in the market
AutoStore is interesting not only from a financial standpoint, but also a system that differentiate CTS GROUP in the market. With this we show our customers that we can take care of their logistics more efficient than our competitors. Fulfilment is due to growing revenue of merchants a growth market, but there are only a few service providers in this field with an appropriate logistic solution, to serve this market.”

Another advantage is the scalability of the system. In December, the number of order lines has reached 7,000 order lines per day, a peak which causes Kersbergen to hire fifty more people. With AutoStore this will be much less.” By working double shifts, we can scale up quickly. The ten robots calculated according to the scenarios are sufficient for the time being, but we can easily increase the number of robots if required. We have already calculated a scenario with twenty robots. “

Copywright – Lalesse

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