Today there are more individual packages being sorted and shipped than ever before in the history of distribution. Retailers constantly compete to deliver goods to our doorsteps, complete and undamaged, within ever shortening lead-times.
Keeping pace with the order fulfilment processes required to facilitate these growing customer demands leads to operational difficulties and rising costs. Maintaining a cost effective strategy to combat these challenges is vital to long term profit. As the task of keeping pace with processing orders lies with the distribution facility, it’s an excellent place to implement changes that will make a real impact.
Your warehouse and the employees working in it are at the heart of your fulfilment operation. The most productive facilities embrace modern materials handling solutions that support high velocity operations.
Using the latest automation methods to speed up the processes within the facility are a guaranteed way to increase productivity. They also have the added bonuses of improving customer satisfaction and ultimately providing a boost to your bottom line.
One of the most efficient ways of using automation to increase processing speeds is to invest in a sorter solution that is capable of accurately handling high volumes of small orders. Begin by evaluating the size, weight and shape of your products and choose a sorter that is designed to work across a wide variety of product profiles.
Consider your seasonal peaks and troughs to ensure that your selected sorter can cope with your busiest processing time of the year. Modern sorters can handle packets or parcels weighing up to 15kgs at a rate of 6,000 products per hour. Smaller items can be processed even more quickly, at rates of up to 20,000 products per hour.
It may be a design principle from the ‘60s but ‘keep it simple stupid’ is still a valuable business proposition today. Most mechanised systems work best if they are uncomplicated and sorters that use straightforward technology combined with a simply engineered construction are easy to use. They also don’t have a lot of mechanical parts that can go wrong, making them extremely reliable and low maintenance.
Deciding the best way to sort your orders will determine the amount of destination chutes that will be required on your sorter. There are many different methods of sortation; some companies choose to sort by type of carrier, others by destination or postcode or even by store.
As a result sorter layouts vary widely, some including ten destination chutes, others well over one hundred. The number of destinations will impact on the sorter layout which can be either loop or linear. So, when making the decision, it is important to take into account space availability for the sorter footprint.
During the sorter selection procedure it is important to consider potential changes in business performance. However, there’s a fine balance between accommodating for an increase in business tomorrow and ending up with extra, unused capacity today.
If your management are not experienced in warehouse engineering and technology, consider a consultation with a specialist materials handling company to guide you through your various options. Companies like Axiom GB will analyse your throughput metrics in order to give you the best possible solution to match your specific sortation requirements now, and in the future.
A well thought out sorter solution, quality built by specialist engineers, will provide many years of low maintenance operation. As a result it will maximise the productivity of your business.
To find out more about cost effective strategies for order fulfilment call Matthew Nickson at Axiom GB on 01827 61212.