Automated packaging eases picking constraints

23rd August 2022

Logistics BusinessAutomated packaging eases picking constraints

ECS Tuning, a leading US automotive parts business, has reduced manual packing constraints by adopting right-size packaging automation, helping the business meet increasing order volumes and supporting current customer demands and future growth.

ECS Tuning has a long and celebrated history supporting the European car community in the USA. From their beginnings as a family-operated service shop in 1962, ECS has become the leading distributor of genuine, after-market, and performance parts for Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, MINI, Porsche, and Volkswagen.

In 2006, ECS decided to no longer accept or schedule service appointments, but concentrate its energies on increasing part and accessories sales, with ongoing improvements to customer service. A fast-growing inventory forced ECS to relocate to a new facility in 2009 with 3X more space to accommodate its rapidly expanding business. Since, its staff has grown fivefold and the extra floor space is long gone, filled with parts, products, and equipment.

Today, with over 1.3 million part numbers in its catalogue and all operations handled in-house, ECS recognised that it did not have enough capacity in its manual packing process to consistently meet customer needs or expectations.

Fast fit-to-size packaging

ECS turned to Sparck Technologies’ CVP Impack Automated Packaging Solution to support its current demands and future growth. With this inline auto-boxing technology, each unique single- and multi-item order is 3D scanned on demand to determine the minimum box size required. Then, corrugated cardboard is custom cut to eliminate unnecessary volume and reduce or eliminate the need for void fill materials. Finally, the order is auto-boxed in a fit-to-size parcel, taped, weighed, and labelled for shipping.

By creating a right-sized box every seven seconds, ECS can count on higher throughput and better use of labour resources. The CVP Impack can perform the work of roughly 20 human packers in an eight-hour period. This allows ECS to remove the manual packing choke points while improving the efficiency of its existing staff for higher-value tasks.

Better customer experience

From the customer-facing side, the CVP Impack will auto-box up to 70% of its catalogue with little to no void filler or packing material. This allows ECS to improve its customer experience with sustainable packaging that is easy to recycle or reuse.

“With more associates picking orders, and a machine that can handle the volume, we anticipate a substantial increase in the number of orders moved out the door daily. That efficiency improvement translates to promises kept on shipping times with in-stock orders that are ready to ship on the same day,” says Max Everhard, GM of Special Operations at ECS Tuning.