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ColArt deploys range of Autostore warehouse control solutions and services from Central Systems & Automation

ColArt has deployed a range of Autostore warehouse control solutions and services from Central Systems & Automation in a major relocation and refurbishment project to move its UK distribution hub from Wealdstone, London and merge all UK distribution at its Kidderminster, Worcestershire facility. ColArt is the world’s leading supplier of artists’ materials that include the Winsor & NewtonÔ, Lefranc & Bourgeois, LiquitexÒ, Conte, ReevesÔ and SnazarooÔ brands. Autostore is the UK’s premier warehouse management and control solution, developed by supply chain integration specialists Central Systems & Automation Ltd.

Warehouse rationalisation and refurbishment is a cost-effective and high-performance way of modernising and sweating warehouse/storage assets that optimises capital investment and cash flow. ColArt’s Wealdstone warehousing operations were already run by Autostore and the company’s products range from the small and lightweight – such as paintbrushes and individual tubes of paint – through to larger, irregularly shaped products such as artists’ pads and easels. Key to the ColArt relocation project was the stripping, refurbishment, physical transfer, reassembly, software reintegration and recommissioning of its nine fully automated horizontal carousels (HOCAs) by Central Systems & Automation at the new Kidderminster DC.

Richard Stapleton is ColArt’s Warehouse and Facilities Manager: "Careful pre-planning with the Central Systems & Automation team was central to delivering this integrated software and engineering project on-time, on-budget and to specification. The entire DC centralisation project has generated savings of £1m and reduced our labour resourcing by 50 per cent.

"The relocation project has balanced a large number of considerations, including: transforming the Kidderminster DC from manual operation with no WMS to a hybrid mix of automated and manual operations running Autostore across four separate stores; optimising locations from 8,000 to 6,500 pallet spaces; increasing SKUs from 1,800 to 6,000; increasing lines per hour from 15 to 250; as well as adding the service capacity to handle an extra 800 retail customers. Plus, it had to be done without disruption to daily operations. As we spool up Kidderminster and Autostore to their full operating capabilities, we expect to experience more financial and operational gains across the business," finished Stapleton.

Andrew McKaig is Commercial Director at Central Systems & Automation: "This has been a textbook optimisation project that has combined the best of our core mechanical, electrical, automation, refurbishment and software skills. We have moved ColArt’s centralised distribution hub 125 miles north and integrated it seamlessly with the company’s ERP system with neither disruption to ColArt’s business – nor to the needs of its customers. With the new DC delivering leaner, more efficient operation against a reduced overhead, we have helped ColArt future-proof its business and enhance the value it demands of its assets."

ColArt is a global business serving professional and amateur artists alike in over 120 countries. ColArt’s Winsor & Newton, Snazaroo, Lefranc & Bourgeois, Conte, Liquitex and Reeves brands dominate the world market, accounting for in excess of a third of all artists’ materials sales made. ColArt has taken strong international market positions in ancillary products such as brushes, easels and surfaces as well as strong regional positions in colours for the education, craft and hobby markets.

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