Automated warehouse solution provider TGW Logistics has installed an innovative ‘DropBox’ picking solution for international fashion brand, Esprit.
With a presence in more than 40 countries including 1,000 retail stores and 9,000 wholesale points, Esprit distributes 25,000 packages a day to its customers.
To handle these increasing volumes whilst offering and maintaining high service levels to its customers, Esprit entrusts its distribution operations to logistics specialist Fiege and warehouse solutions integrator TGW.
Located in Mönchengladbach, Germany, Esprit’s Distribution Centre Europe (DCE) supplies all Esprit’s retail shops and wholesale outlets throughout Europe. Operated by Fiege, the DCE has the capacity to handle up to one million items every day.
To meet high demand and to also enable customer-specific item sequencing, TGW designed and installed a sophisticated material flow concept, which ensures that all goods are in the correct location at the right time in the DCE.
"It is a highly sophisticated technical approach, which enables Esprit to meet the wishes of its shops and its retail customers," explains project manager Peter Ehrenhuber, Director of Realisation, TGW Logistics Group.
The DropBox solution that TGW designed and installed responds to the requirement for shop-based sequencing in shipping cartons. It allows for defined individual sequences in which items are packed in the DC, based on how the goods are arranged in the respective stores and provides a ‘store friendly’ presentation within the carton.
"We are able to sequence the contents of a customer carton 100% or pack them individually," says Peter Ehrenhuber. "The sorted sequence of the goods in the carton reduces the amount of work involved for employees in the shops."
TGW’s DropBox system operates in two steps and allows for high-performance picking and packing to work independently from each other. At the 45 picking stations, the goods are picked from the cartons into designated DropBox order totes. A DropBox is used for each order line to enable single item sequencing.
The pick operatives receive their picking instructions via a touch screen, and the system combines the orders and merges the order lines with the same items at one workstation to minimise the generation of part-filled cartons. If some items remain in the carton, this carton is returned to the mini-load warehouse. Empty cartons are also withdrawn automatically. Thanks to the ergonomic arrangement of the workstations and a very simple picking process, the solution achieves a picking performance of 1,000 items per hour at each workstation.
In addition to the DropBox solution, TGW also provided the automated mini-load warehouse that accommodates 202,000 cartons across 36 aisles. Cartons are stored double deep until they are retrieved and transported by the TGW Mustang automated storage & retrieval (AS/RS) machines and transported via the TGW conveyor network to the picking stations in sequence.
A shipping buffer is supported by a further mini-load warehouse that houses 16 TGW Commissioner automated storage machines with a capacity of 16,000 storage locations and 88 value added service workstations.
TGW Natrix sorters take care of the sortation, using a sophisticated sorting control concept.
Axel Witte, Head of Global Warehousing at Esprit commented on the DropBox solution. "It is fascinating to watch. What led to its success is the fact that all the teams involved in the project were present on site right from the beginning. This close collaboration has resulted in an outstanding distribution centre."