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Materials handling provider Dematic wins contract to install innovative picking system for Halfords

Halfords has awarded Dematic, a global leading provider of an impressive range of intelligent logistics and materials handling solutions, a prestigious contract to install an innovative picking system that combines pick to light, pick to voice and a Dematic Multishuttle Consolidation Buffer at the retailer’s new 310,000 sq ft Small Parts Picking Centre in Coventry to provide highly efficient store order fulfilment.

Working closely with Halfords, the UK’s leading retailer of equipment and services for car maintenance, car enhancement, and leisure, Dematic has devised a solution to make the best use of what is typically wasted space above the marshalling area of a distribution centre. This will involve installing a small parts picking system on a two level, 165 metres long x 20 metres wide mezzanine that runs the entire length of the building, thus optimising the warehouse cube all the way to the loading docks. A long-span mezzanine design will facilitate marshalling below the structure.

Dematic will install a conveyor-based system with 3600 pick-to-light units for Halfords’ fast & medium moving small parts and a pick-by-voice system from Vocollect for the slower movers. In total, this cost efficient and highly productive solution will process approximately 10,000 SKUs.

As Vocollect reseller for the project, Dematic is supplying a total of 60 voice terminals for the DC. Twenty of these will be used for Dematic’s pick-to-voice system while the remaining units will be used for other operations within the facility, such as bulk picking, bulk put away and decanting. These will be controlled by Manhattan Associates’ WMS, which also feeds orders to Dematic’s DC Director WCS. This Warehouse Control System looks after stock profiling and integrates the pick to light and voice technologies seamlessly to achieve the most efficient pick possible.

It will then send picked totes to a Dematic Multishuttle Captive Buffer to dramatically increase speed, accuracy and throughput. Intelligent controls in this system enable complex sequencing that contributes to flexibility and building store friendly orders. For this solution, one of the ten shuttles will receive the picked totes for each store and stack them six high in store sequence ready to go straight into the back of the delivery vehicles, thus eliminating the need for sortation lanes and reducing the number of totes being sent to Halford’s stores.

Commenting on the award of the contract, Dave Bull, Business Development Manager at Dematic, said: "This is an extremely exciting contract win for Dematic. By showing a number of quality reference sites, impressing with the speed at which we could turn around alternative solutions and demonstrating a comprehensive after sales offering we proved to Halfords Dematic’s all round capabilities."

Mark Shirley, Logistics Controller of Halfords said: "It wasn’t just Dematic’s understanding of what we wanted to achieve with this project, which it demonstrated in its solution, we were also impressed greatly by its experience, the team it provided and, importantly, its Health & Safety systems."

Dematic commenced the installation in December 2009 and the project will go live in June 2010.

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