Sophisticated order picking for Coop Danmark A/S

SSI Schaefer has completed the installation of a new high-bay warehouse including a tailored Warehouse Management System (WMS) for Denmark’s leading consumer goods retailer, Coop Danmark A/S

Wanting to exceed in both customer delivery and reaction times, Coop Danmark A/S recently reconfigured its logistics to provide an optimum, intelligent storage and distribution system using the latest technology.

Bringing together seven regional warehouses into one central warehouse in Odense, Denmark, equipped with state-of-the-art order picking processes, was no easy task - after an international invitation to tender, the contract was awarded to SSI Schaefer.

“In view of our diverse product range, we were looking for a solution with intelligent material flow and well-defined order picking strategies,” says John Møller, warehouse manager at Coop.

The three-block high bay warehouse (HBW), which now serves as a supply and transfer warehouse, has four aisles per block with over 36,000 storage locations for single-deep storage of pallets that can weigh up to 1,000kg each. Twelve storage and retrieval machines, that move at a speed of up to 250 metres per minute, ensure quick storage and retrieval of more than 500 pallets per hour.

Running alongside the high bay warehouse is the WMS that controls the manual low-bay warehouse, storing positions for man-to-goods order picking of fast-moving items, available across three shelf levels.

“Stock and processes at the warehouse in Odense are governed according to advertising campaigns,” explains Peter Lambrecht, project manager for SSI Schaefer. “The objective is to achieve a high throughput in a short time, taking into account finishing treatments. Due to complex product lines, different types of storage areas in addition to several different order picking strategies, characterise the flow of goods at Coop’s logistics centre.”

Items delivered on pallets are logged in goods receiving and transferred to the high bay warehouse or block storage. Articles, which for example will have CDs added, are allocated to workstations immediately and then stored in the high bay warehouse as a new stock item. Smaller, high-value items are stored in a separate paternoster system.

Order picking shelves with an attached gravity-roller-conveyor are installed for small volume commodities that are not large enough to be picked directly from the pallet. Both systems are supplied from the high bay warehouse or the manual warehouse – depending on the advertising campaign. “Supply of order picking positions and the picking process itself are controlled by the WMS,” says Lambrecht. “Due to the varied order picking strategies, this project was a special challenge for our IT department.”

Up to 25,000 order lines for just under 600 orders are processed daily – five partially linked order picking strategies are designated for this task. Each HBW block is equipped with a picking station to palletise items for large orders.

Controlled by the WMS, source pallets are retrieved from the high bay warehouse and allocated for order picking at six source positions in each block. There, supported by height adjustable, ergonomically designed working platforms, items are picked from the source pallets onto seven target pallets.

Partially used and pre-picked pallets are stored in the high bay warehouse again; empty pallets are removed automatically. Readily picked target pallets are transferred to consolidation points. If commissioned work is complete and automatic load secured, they are forwarded directly to the three dispatch areas via the conveyor and lift systems. In addition, the WMS arranges for the disposal of packaging waste which is collected in lattice boxes and removed by forklifts.

“Due to the high portion of smaller consignments (approximately 30 percent) that have to be picked in order commissioning, we followed the recommendation of SSI Schaefer and created a separate picking area for this range of articles,” says Møller. For this purpose, a three-level flow rack with a total of 120 channels for up to five bins each was installed and connected to the pick positions for larger consignments. The facility is also equipped with a pick-by-light-system.

“Once picking for a specific shop in the large consignment area is complete and if this same order also requires goods of a pre-picked product group, a box from the shelf-channels is added to the shipping pallet,” says Møller. While being transported on the conveyor system, ready-picked pallets pass through a wrapping station and are transferred to the consolidating or dispatch area via the lift system.

In the consolidation area, pallets from the large dispatch area are consolidated with pre-picked or whole pallets from the high bay warehouse as well as with picked items of the manually operated storage areas to complete the order.

“Utilisation of space, high flexibility and reliable order processing - SSI Schaefer has designed a very efficient solution. Not only has it increased our throughput and process reliability but offers us the capacity for future expansion,” summarises Møller.

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