A £1 million conveyor system capable of handling up to 1000 orders an hour with minimal manual handling by staff and provision for extension in the future has been completed by European Conveyor Systems Ltd for specialist toy and gift retailer Tobar Ltd.
Following rapid expansion over the last few years, Tobar moved into a purpose-built head office and warehouse costing around £10 million near Beccles, Suffolk. The footprint of the building is 10,000m², and the bulk storage area alone has over 6000 pallet spaces for the 2500 product lines currently stocked by the company.
While all order picking operations were carried out manually at the previous premises, which involved operatives walking long distances, the ECS conveyor system links a number of picking zones on two mezzanine floors with consolidation and packing areas on the ground floor. It also delivers products to the picking zones on the upper floors to replenish stocks there. Altogether, the system includes nearly 1000 metres of conveyor.
Orders are placed in plastic tote bins identified with unique bar codes that are read by bar-code scanners that direct each bin to its next destination. Staff can add extra bins to accommodate an order if the first one becomes full. In order to check that an order has been picked correctly, before each bin leaves the picking area it is weighed and the weight checked against the figure calculated by the warehouse management system.
Bins with completed correct orders are delivered by the conveyor system to one of two packing areas on the ground floor, depending on whether there is only one bin for the order or more than one. A re-circulation loop has been included in the conveyor system provide buffer storage when the packing areas are busy.
The warehouse computer system linked to the ECS conveyor system provides a wide variety of information about order progress, system functionality and other matters and also allows faults to be diagnosed and rectified through a modem link.
European Conveyor Systems Ltd on 0115 987 4363