Case Study with Book Distributor

Evaluation of warehouse automation technologies, the creation of a full concept design to meet the future growth requirements and the support in building a robust business case for capital approval.

Client Overview

The client is a leading publisher and distributor of books across the globe. The project focused on the business’ UK distribution centre which is responsible for shipping over 75 million books per annum to the domestic and international markets.

Project Objectives

The distribution operation had surpassed its bulk storage capacity and was using third party logistics providers to support overflow storage, leading to inefficiencies. The system for unit picking, a conveyor zone pick solution, was approaching end-of-life and the business wanted to consider options for replacing the system that would provide a major increase to productivity.

  • Evaluate opportunities to automate warehouse processes with attractive paybacks.
  • Create an end-to-end design for how the operation could look after a building extension.

Project Approach

  • Visited the current operation to develop a strong understanding of the warehouse processes and potential automation opportunities.
  • Analysed the business’ recent data including throughput, storage, financial and productivity data to baseline the operational flows and overlay growth projections.
  • Modelled the impact of each agreed design option, comparing the capital outlay, footprint requirements, operational costs and headcount of each option.
  • Created CAD layouts of the three concept design options for further consideration.
  • Supported the compilation of a robust business case for the business to take forward for board approval.

Project Results

  • An end-to-end warehouse concept design incorporating the extension of manual VNA bulk pallet storage with a goods-to-person picking solution for split case picking.
  • Provision of capital and operating budgets to support the business to build a thorough business case for board approval, without the need to engage any vendors in a detailed tender process, prior to receiving internal capital sign-off.
  • Comprehensive CAD layouts of the three concept designs that included the replacement of the current pickface solution and two goods-to-person options.
  • Creation of 3D renders and virtual reality experience to help better visualise the solution and the impact of the new technology.

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