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Logistics Business Magazine

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Multi-channel solution from KNAPP delivers the goods for fashion clients

The Austrian third-party logistics supplier, JCL Logistics, is enjoying the benefits of an automated handling solution designed by KNAPP that enables the company to meet the B2B and B2C demands of its clients in a flexible way.

Active in the freight, logistics and e-commerce sectors, JCL Logistics has more than 60 sites across 25 countries. JCL recently invested 18.5 million Euros in a 50,000m2 distribution centre in Werndorf, Austria, which acts as the logistical hub for customers in Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovenia and parts of Germany, including a major Swiss fashion retailer. Opened last summer, the facility – which ships more than 28 million articles of clothing for retail stores (B2B) and about 3.5 million items for direct customer orders (B2C) per year – features automated handling systems from the KNAPP Group, including overhead conveyor systems from its subsidiary, Dürkopp Fördertechnik.

Efficient shuttle storage
After quality checking at goods-in, flat-packed items are placed into plastic totes, which are then transported to KNAPP's OSR ShuttleTM automatic storage and retrieval system (ASRS). The OSR ShuttleTM, with its retrieval capacity of 1000 totes per hour, forms the heart of JCL's order picking operations. The system features an independent shuttle on every level of the storage cube, served by dedicated lifts at the aisle ends. Containers up to 35kg are stored two-deep in two aisles with 23 levels, giving a total of 15,000 storage locations. The OSR ShuttleTM achieves up to six times the rate of totes in/out than a traditional ASRS, while having about 20% less footprint and using only some 5% of the energy consumption. This impressive power saving is achieved through energy recuperation from the braking process, the use of sophisticated software to optimise power requirements and intelligent design to minimise shuttle weight.

Speedy picking with Fastbox
The B2B (retail store) orders for JCL's various clients are processed at two Pick-it-Easy workstations, which are served by the OSR ShuttleTM system. JCL placed great emphasis on the design of the workstations to ensure that they would be as ergonomic as possible to guarantee maximum productivity. As well as allowing plenty of natural light in the work area, user-friendly materials – such as warm-to-touch wood and cushioned fascias – were incorporated into the design of the picking stations. The operator is guided by pick-to-light displays and an intuitive user interface, with everything within easy reach and the work sequence optimised. Each of the workstations has two Fastbox towers, each served by two of the ultra-rapid lifts from the OSR ShuttleTM series, located immediately alongside. JCL was the first of KNAPP's clients to have these innovative buffer storage towers installed. The Fastbox towers – which can be up to 12 metres in height – store fast-moving products, particularly those featured in current promotional campaigns. The short transport distance from the picker and the ultra-fast handling combine to ensure maximum picking speed for these frequently required goods. The Fastbox towers can buffer up to 72 containers for each of the Pick-it-Easy workstations, where staff pick a number of items from the source container and place them as directed in multiple target containers. This computer-controlled batching of orders allows the physical accessing of storage totes to be minimised and the number of picks per operator/hour to be maximised.

E-commerce picking
The processing of e-commerce (B2C) orders takes place in a separate area within the Werndorf facility, using four of KNAPP's Sort & Pack stations. Goods required for these orders are retrieved from the OSR ShuttleTM and conveyed to these workstations, where staff pick the required items and place them into a ‘pigeon hole' system according to pick-to-light displays.

AGV system
After picking in the B2B and B2C areas, containers are transported via the conveyor system to the ground floor, where they are manually placed on pallets. An AGV system – KNAPP's KiSoft Automove laser-guided forklift solution – then transports them to the correct location in the hanging goods area, where they are consolidated with orders for hanging goods.

Hanging garments
The Werndorf distribution centre also features a fully automatic hanging goods area with a comprehensive overhead conveyor solution and individual item tracking and sortation. Items are placed on hangers and blocks of these are formed into transport units, each receiving a routing label as it enters the overhead conveyor system for transport to either static racks, the tunnel finisher – used to eliminate creases through a steaming process – or the allocation area. At the allocation stations, a barcode scanner automatically reads the routing label of the transport unit and then each garment is transferred to a single adapter of the roll adapter system. This then diverts individual garments to the route buffer area (with capacity for some 89,000 items), the return conveyor to the static warehouse or the bulk area. A Matrix Sortation system is used to sort the garments by store, discount offer, style, colour and ascending size, with some 6,000 items per hour being processed. After merging of individual garments into handling units ready for delivery, these units are plastic-wrapped for protection and labelled before being automatically loaded into the correct delivery vehicle using telescopic conveyors at one of six dispatch ramps.


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