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Espirit packing station

Esprit installs DropBox sequencing system

By Retail Technology | Wednesday February 5 2014

International fashion retailer implements innovative new automated warehouse system to boost picking productivity and meet growing distribution demands

Automated warehouse systems 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 while offering and maintaining high customer service levels, Esprit outsources its distribution operations to logistics specialist Fiege and the warehouse systems integrator TGW.

Located in Mönchengladbach, Germany, Esprit’s Distribution Centre Europe (DCE) supplies all Esprit’s retail shops and wholesale outlets throughout the continent. Operated by Fiege, the DCE has the capacity to handle up to one million items every day. 

Right place, right time material flow

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,” explained project manager Peter Ehrenhuber, TGW Logistics Group director of realisation.

The DropBox system designed and installed by TGW meets the retailer’s requirement for shop-based sequencing in shipping cartons. It allows for defined individual sequences in which items are packed in the DCE, 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,” saidEhrenhuber. “The sorted sequence of the goods in the carton reduces the amount of work involved for employees in the shops.”

Updating fulfilment operations

TGW’s DropBox system operates in two steps and allows for picking and packing processes to work independently from each other. At the 45 picking stations, goods are picked from the cartons into designated DropBox order totes. A DropBox is used for each order line to enable single item sequencing.

Picking operatives receive their instructions via a touchscreen [pictured], 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. The ergonomic arrangement of the workstations and simple picking process they enable 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 and 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 handle sortation, using what TGW described as a “sophisticated sorting control concept”.

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