In the hyper-competitive marketplace of wholesale convenience store distribution, having the proper inventory management system in place is critical in the success of your business. When this regional supplier servicing more than 1,600 stops a week needed to move into a new expanded distribution center, they relied on KLG in a design-build relationship to integrate the entire inventory management system and help lay out the building.
An assessment of all data including SKU counts, product movement, pallet storage requirements and growth projections were combined with our ideas for picking, product flow and sorting to create an optimal new inventory management and distribution process.
As part of the inventory management solution, seven different conveyor lines convey product from two different pick modules into a sawtooth merge. A three level split case pick module uses the first two levels for picking candy, tobacco and grocery items. The third level has a free and clear mezzanine supported by the rack to hold carousels and carton flow for cigarette picking. Each level of the module has an independent takeaway conveyor with the cigarette area actually having two takeaway lines.
A three level full case pick module includes two deep pallet flow on either side for full case picking. Each level of the full case module also has an independent takeaway line. When combined with the split case line these lines all create a large accumulation deck feeding into a 7 to 1 merge.
Each tote or case leaving the modules is identified with a barcode label detailing the route and store number. Routes are batch picked together in store sequential order. Scanners are placed at each merge point of the 7 to 1 merge. Lanes are released into the merge until the next wave of stores shows up at a scanner. That lane is then held until all 7 lanes have released the first wave of stores. After that point any lane can begin releasing totes again as part of the second wave of the inventory management solution.
In addition to all material handling mechanical hardware and conveyor controls KLG also provided the warehouse inventory management software for this facility. The WMS package controls their inventory, helps facilitates slotting, creates pick tickets and shipping labels, as well as shipping manifests. The inventory management system also incorporated R/F units on each the forklifts for directing putaway and restocking activities.
From the 7 to 1 merge all product travels to a sliding shoe style sorter where it is diverted by route in store sequential order for loading trucks.