Dynamic Picking System Boosts Customer Service and Timings Needs

14th November 2017

Logistics BusinessDynamic Picking System Boosts Customer Service and Timings Needs

Technische Unie, the largest wholesaler for electrical, sanitary, and mechanical installation equipment in the Netherlands, has been placing its trust in Witron’s Dynamic Picking System (DPS) for many years in order to meet its order picking needs and to supply its customers. Due to constantly increasing throughput and a further growth of the assortment range, the company decided to adapt the logistics centre to current and future growth. The expansion – designed and implemented by Witron as a general contractor – will be realized in three stages that will be completed in February 2019.

The expansion will include 20 multi-functional order picking workstations (a total of 80 order picking workstations) and a new outbound lane (a total of three). Thus, the throughput of the logistics centre will increase by more than 30% so that nearly 100,000 order lines can be picked on a peak day after productive use. The system will also be amended by automated DPS and OCB aisles (Order Consolidation Buffer) with 60,000 tote storage locations (a total of 257,000 tote storage locations) and 8 stacker cranes (a total of 33 stacker cranes). The totes are divided into three parts allowing the broad assortment of more than 89,000 different products being stored in a space-saving manner. The “empty tote infeed” will be doubled in terms of size and throughput. This area is used to automatically destack the empty totes returned by the customers of Technische Unie and supply them to the DPS AS/RS.

The company is well-known for its extraordinary high customer service. Products that are ordered before 8.00 p.m. are picked by no later than 2.30 a.m. and arrive at the customer during the night or the following day. The Alphen logistics centre, located in the heart of the Netherlands, plays a very important role in Technische Unie’s distribution network. From here, the wholesaler ships all small-volume products, at least 80 percent of its product range, to customers throughout the entire country.

The Dynamic Picking System (DPS) is based on the principles of both goods-to-person and person -to-goods picking. Depending on the relevant order structure, the items are arranged in the pick front either permanently or on a demand-oriented basis. Therefore, the pick front is optimized at all times. Stacker cranes controlled by the system carry out replenishment of the picking zones. The classification of the product structure is consistently verified and adapted by DPS. The picking operation is supported by a pick-by-light system. The lengths that employees walk are shortened significantly due to both static and dynamic staging of warehouse items, enabling a very high picking output compared to conventional solutions. The order totes in the Order Consolidation Buffer are automatically consolidated according to the customer and the route so that the shipping process meets the highest requirements in terms of cost-efficiency and flexibility. In the outbound lane (dolly loading lane), the picked and consolidated totes are stacked automatically, placed on dollies, provided with a lid, stretch-wrapped, and provided with a dispatch label before they are transported to the shipping area on the conveyor system.