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Automation Day hailed a success

Efficiency through Automation – this was the message given to guests attending SSI Schaefer’s annual Automation Day Conference that recently took place in Liverpool. The event highlighted the advantages of implementing automation into existing logistics operations through a number of unique and exciting presentations delivered by leading market experts.

Over 70 delegates attended the event, representing some of the country’s m largest and well-known retailers, all wanting to take tips away on how to make significant efficiency improvements to their own operations. They came to get a closer look at how TJ Morris, the UK’s fastest growing discount retailer, has successfully implemented automation into its existing storage and distribution centre resulting in increased storage capacity, maximum product pick efficiency and low labour overheads.

A number of presentations were given throughout the day, including Jaap Vos, General Manager of SSI Schaefer in the UK, who gave an in-depth overview of the company across the globe, its structure and overall capabilities. Guests also heard from David Hibbett, Automation Systems Manager at SSI Schaefer and Mike Oliver, Director at Total Logistics.

John-Paul Bednarek, Head of Operations at Teva UK Ltd – Teva is the world’s number one generic pharmaceutical company – described in detail the transition process of centralising their UK logistic activities into a brand new automated single logistic centre, designed and installed by SSI Schaefer, that has significantly reduced supply chain costs, improved picking performance, reduced labour overheads and improved customer service levels.

Joe Morris, Operations Director, TJ Morris, gave a passionate account of his family-owned business, which started out in 1976 as just one store in Old Swan, Liverpool and has now grown to over 250stores with plans to expand to over 500 stores by 2018.

He vividly described when in 2009 with business expanding and demand for stock levels growing, there was an urgent need for increased storage capacity and maximum product pick efficiency whilst maintaining low labour overheads – it was then that TJ Morris in conjunction with Total Logistics, selected SSI Schaefer to deliver and exceed those expectations within its existing storage and distribution centre in Liverpool, Merseyside.

To augment the existing storage whilst accommodating the growing volume of palletised products, a 32 metre automated high-bay extension to the distribution centre was built that enabled TJ Morris to handle growth from 170 stores to 350, drive operational costs down, improve stock availability and significantly improve picking accuracy and speed.

Joe told the audience that: "Automation does work and it is currently working in our facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, what I would advise is to always work with a supplier that you know is going to be around for the long-haul and that you can actually get on with. Stay clear of making the solution too complicated, understand individual roles and responsibilities and always get advice from someone that has already been there."

The event closed with a ‘behind the scenes’ tour round the TJ Morris site in Gillmoss, Liverpool – delegates were given a VIP tour of its world class storage and distribution facility which now houses more than 46,000 pallets and 11 pallet cranes that feed products to more than 1,000 ground level picking locations and deliver replenishment orders to an adjacent mini-load crane-based tote storage system, built to hold slower moving items, providing an additional storage capacity of up to 28,000 totes and 804 picking stations.

Andy Banks from Waitrose commented: "It was a great day and really gave me some food for thought! The developments being made in the field of automation /mechanisation are certainly very interesting."

Kirsten Tisdale from Aricia Ltd said: "Thanks to SSI Schaefer for another excellent event, it was a very well thought out and organised day – well worth the trip when my diary was already busy with plenty of other things!"

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