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Win-win for BIG W and Dematic

31-08-2010
by 
in 

BIG W’s state-of-the-art distribution centre at Hoxton Park, Sydney

BIG W’s new 89,000sqm distribution centre at Hoxton Park in Sydney was the big winner at the recent Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Awards.

The retail giant received both the Supply Chain Management and the Storage and Handling of Materials Awards.

The world’s best practice distribution centre is the first of its kind in Australia and incorporates the most sophisticated array of materials handling and order fulfilment technologies and software to date in Australia.

Key among the many innovations is the first Dematic Multishuttle automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), which buffers, sequences and delivers stock to the first RapidPick order fulfilment stations in the country, enabling a single operator to process up to 24 orders at a time.

BIG W’s Logistics Manager, Philip Town, explained why the retailer decided to be first to implement the new technology in Australia: “When the design was on the drawing board, we looked at best practice logistics and the thing that kept on coming up was Goods-to-Person (GTP), and the benefits that GTP provides by having the stock come to the picker, rather than the picker having to walk around picking every individual item.”

“We are now achieving significant benefits out of our GTP system, with pick rates of around 500 OMs (order multiples) per hour per station, which compares very favourably with our conventional pick-to-belt throughput of about 120 OMs per hour,” Mr Town said.

Despite being the first in the southern hemisphere to implement the new technologies, BIG W was so confident its state-of-the-art order fulfilment systems would be up to the task, the DC went live with the “big bang” approach on March 26, this year, servicing all of its stores at the same time, and achieving expected throughput volumes from day one.

Unlike conventional ASRS, which typically use cranes to access stock, Dematic’s new Multishuttle uses a fleet of self-propelled carts to retrieve and put goods away in an ultra space-efficient storage system, at very high speeds.

Lifts at the end of each aisle transfer goods in and out of the system via integrated conveyors. At BIG W, the Multishuttle is equipped with 70 Multishuttle carts, capable of performing over 30,000 storage and retrieval cycles per hour.

At 89,000sqm, Hoxton Park is the largest footprint distribution centre in the Woolworths network. The flow-through design centre is nearly half a kilometre long and about 200m wide – the same area as about 11 football fields.

The distribution centre has the capacity to house more than 50,000 pallets within a combination of conventional ColbyRACK pallet racking, drive-in racking, and pallet live storage within several walk-pick-to-belt case picking modules.

The Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Awards are organised by the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia.

This year’s ceremony was held at the Brisbane Convention Centre on November 8.

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