Driving growth with dynamic store replenishment
The transformation from full-case to unit-based sortation.
The move from manual to fully automated sortation has enabled Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) to make a strategic shift from seasonal to dynamic store replenishment. The transformation started with the installation of a BEUMER sortation system at DSW’s main Distribution Centre in Columbus, Ohio. for the retail replenishment.
The centre previously used case-based, cross-dock sortation for the replenishment of footwear and accessories for DSW’s 430 U.S. retail outlets, 370 leased departments and online sales. The case-based model meant that stores replenished popular sizes by ordering a case which included the full range of sizes. With automated sortation, DSW now enables unit replenishment by individual size. This allows the stores to order only the sizes which need to be re-stocked.
Following the radical change in replenishment strategy, the number of items shipped in the first year reached 4.3 million units, which was four times the number forecast by DSW.
To meet the demand for growth, BEUMER’s BS-7 cross-belt sortation system was installed on a mezzanine floor in the warehouse. The mezzanine measures 1400 feet long, by 100 feet wide so space was tight. The design enables the sorter to use the smallest belt pitch to deliver throughput of up to 10,000 units per hour. The proven uptime and sortation accuracy of 99.99% are essential for replenishment efficiency.
New racks and conveyors enable stock to be de-cased for unit-based replenishment. The stock is inducted onto the sorter for both pallet-based and full-case pick modules. Tight control is achieved with the integration of the BEUMER Sortation Software (BeSS) into DSW’s WMS platform.
The shoe boxes enter the sorter from four high-speed automatic induction units with cross-dock capability. The acceleration of the belts is dynamically adjusted to maintain product flow in wave sequence. The sorter scans the shoe boxes and optimises the sort destination to minimize re-circulation. A total of 250 double-level half-pipe chutes discharge to 500 destinations and graphic displays show when an order is ready to be packed. The operators use wristbands to scan the boxes as they are packed into the case.
Full cases are sorted in a wave and the shoe sizes which are not needed for shipment are discharged to a residuals area for storage. This eliminates complex case breaking and re-stocking of unit quantities. It also allows DSW to sort product by store layout for more efficient replenishment.
The sorter uses a unique contactless energy supply which is highly efficient and on-demand. The power is transferred from the stationary sorter track to the sorter trays. The OptiDrives technology uses 80% less energy than asynchronous linear motor drives and provides up to 66% greater start-up force in addition to online diagnostics.
Full throughput on the automated sorter was planned to take six months but was achieved in two months. The pack-out rates rose from 120 units per hour to 325 units per hour, which is 20 percent higher than planned.
The move from seasonal, case-based, cross-dock sortation to unit-based in-season replenishment has supported dynamic growth and increased efficiency for DSW.