Davies & Robson were invited by Fowler Welch to determine how productivity within the distribution operation could be improved whilst maintaining the current high service standards.
The Heywood Distribution Centre stores and picks ambient food products for 64 customers. It acts as a cross-dock point in the client’s transport network. Customers also use the facility as temporary overspill warehousing on short term contracts.
The 476,000 sq. ft. site has a storage capacity of 40,000 pallets in a mostly narrow aisle and limited wide aisle racking. It despatches approximately 9,000 pallets per week plus 4,800 of cross-dock. There is also a co-pack area.
A two-pronged approach was taken, focusing on process and layout:
A Process Review
With minimal changes to the warehouse to reduce current operating costs
Develop Layout Improvement
Including possible changes to the racking to reduce operating costs and to increase picking and despatch capacity
The project approach was based on the Davies & Robson methodology for warehouse design projects, which uses operational data to highlight improvement areas and to quantify the impact of alternative operational scenarios.
The product flows were mapped both in terms of physical flow and hourly volumes throughout the day. The resulting data profile was signed off by the operational team to form the basis of scenario modelling.
A number of volume peaks and imbalances led to productivity loss, compared to industry benchmarks
A number of alternative rack layout options were developed to meet the customer profile, operational flexibility and resilience to meet future unexpected customer demands
A detailed warehouse resource model (hourly and task level) was used to measure the impact of flow, timing, layout changes against base case model
A financial evaluation of the benefits of implementing the optimum layout and resources will be undertaken using current operating costs
The project resulted in a number of operational and layout design concepts to improve performance:
General productivity improvements through workflow balancing, stock layout optimisation, introducing a new tramming method and changing product flows
Improved access to storage capacity by removing a VNA cross aisle, maximising marshalling in specific areas and creating a block stack area for fast movers
Longer term looking at adding more doors and marshalling areas
The design concepts were practical to implement in the short to medium term, allowing the customer to materialise the productivity benefits.
Fowler Welch’s Chief Operating Officer, John Kerrigan said:
“Davies & Robson completed the project for us on time, on budget and identified a number of improvements that can be made to the operation that we are now in the process of implementing. Their approach was collaborative, and they spent time and effort understanding our operation, to ensure the output was beneficial to us.”
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