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Provider of racking systems SSI Schaefer helps improve picking efficiency for Yankee Candle

Picking efficiency has improved by 50% and picking errors have significantly reduced at Yankee Candle’s European distribution centre in Bristol as a result of SSI Schaefer’s paperless pick-to-light system installation.

Yankee Candle, distributors of the world’s largest selection of scented candles and home fragrancing products scents to both retail stores, export organisations and the consumer via the internet, wanted to improve overall picking accuracy and efficiency by building upon the existing KDR flow racking system previously installed by SSI Schaefer.

The original KDR flow racking, designed to hold forward picking stock in over 1800 locations, is divided into pick zones in a ‘U’ shaped layout with a conveyor running through the centre. Originally supporting paper-based picking, the KDR flow racking has been significantly enhanced by the addition of SSI Schaefer’s pick-to-light system.

Yankee Candle is already reaping the benefits of the new paperless system which uses the latest in Schaefer’s software technology by providing the advantage of flexible zone-picking to balance out workload, contributing to increased picking efficiency, meaning fewer labour hours and reduced picking errors, resulting in fewer missed or low level product shipments.

Mike Alibone, Business Development Manager, SSI Schaefer, said: "As well as improving picking efficiency the system is designed to provide enhanced volumetric packing, multiple order consolidation, order progress optimisation and shipping detail transfer to third party carriers, taking Yankee Candle to a new level in operational excellence."

Bruce Mitchell, Operations Manager at Yankee Candle is delighted with the new system, he said: "The system has lifted picking efficiency by 50% whilst significantly increasing the accuracy of the pick. In fact, shipping volumes are up by more than 40% on this time last year while the number of errors is down by over 50% of last year’s figure."

Packing – the system calculates the sizes and number of cartons required and prints labels in advance with the content. The system is reliant on using a database of carton volumetrics/packing parameters and is enabled when the operator scans the barcode on the carton label. Multiple orders can be consolidated for a single shipment to a customer.

Order progress optimisation – all defined pick zones are able to commence order picking simultaneously, even when a single large order is split across different zones. It relies on operators in each zone picking in the printing sequence of the labels which have been issued to synchronise order progression. For each pick wave the system looks at the distribution of the picks and calculates a zone size for each operator to work in, thereby spreading the number of picks evenly across a maximum of twelve operators.

Shipping detail transfer to 3rd party carriers – this allows cartons to be scanned and the details of the shipment to be transferred electronically via an interface between the SSI system to any one of five carrier systems in order for the latter to generate its own despatch documentation.

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