Casebook 2011: Elgiganten optimizes order fulfillment

Integrated voice-directed picking brings high-tech solution to direct-to-customer distribution for electronics retailer.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
January 06, 2011 - MMH Editorial

The e-business boom poses significant order fulfillment challenges. Rather than limit itself to multi-product orders for traditional distribution, one company installed an order fulfillment system (Dematic, 877-725-7500, http://www.dematic.us) that enables single-item shipping and near-100% pick accuracy.

Elgiganten’s central warehouse in Jönköping, Sweden, distributes more than 4,000 electronic products to 247 Scandinavian megastores while fulfilling the rapidly growing volume of direct-to-customer orders for items like cell phones, digital music players and digital cameras. To accommodate an ever-growing product range and rapidly changing distribution requirements, the company chose a flexible pick-and-pack solution.

“Our e-business channel has been growing at a rate of 50% per annum,” explains development manager Andreas Thimour.

The zone-routing system determines the order cartons are conveyed to the relevant picking zones where products for the orders are located. Zones that do not have product required for the order are skipped. This improves the speed, efficiency and responsiveness of order fulfillment. Fast and slow movers are picked in separate areas so that the system and organization can be geared differently to optimize productivity.

In addition, warehouse staff is verbally directed to pick items by a small belt-mounted voice terminal and headset with microphone. Voice picking lets the pickers keep their hands and eyes free at all times, making it faster and easier to pick the right products in the right order, and safer by letting the them concentrate on product handling.

The voice system maintains wireless real-time contact with the warehouse management system, virtually eliminating picking errors. Voice picking has improved productivity up to 35% more than paper or RF picking while resulting in almost 100% picking accuracy. It has also helped reduce the time spent training new staff and employee turnover, and increased job safety.

“The order fulfillment system maximizes productivity and efficiency by enabling warehouse staff to be easily redeployed to other duties in other parts of the warehouse,” says project manager Daniel Lundby. “We can also increase throughput by increasing the number of pickers in the zone routing system during peak periods like Christmas.”

 



About the Author

image
Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


Subscribe to Logistics Management magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your
entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in November was up 3.5 percent compared to October, which was up 0.5 percent over September at 136.8 (2000=100), marking the highest SA on record.

UPS said that through this acquisition it will augment its healthcare expertise and network in Europe, specifically in the fast growing healthcare markets in Central and Eastern Europe.

Carloads were up 12.1 percent at 312,271, and intermodal at 280,337 containers and trailers saw a 4.5 percent annual gain.

Total November POLB volumes were up 2.1 percent year-over-year at 581,514 TEU, and POLA volumes in November decreased 3 percent compared to November 2013 at 663,346 TEU.

When railroads are doing business with a larger than large customer like UPS, it stands to reason, it can often be the best, and worst, of both worlds, depending on how things are going. That was one of the main takeaways from a presentation by UPS Vice President of Corporate Transportation Services Ken Buenker at this year’s RailTrends conference in New York.

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.