Goods-to-person fulfillment system increases Shimano’s productivity
With the new system, some operators are achieving up to 500 picks per hour—double the amount the system originally intended.
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A world-leading manufacturer and distributor of high-quality cycling and fishing equipment and accessories, Shimano currently operates a DC that has incorporated goods-to-person workstations supported by a multishuttle inventory storage sub-system. The project has been primarily driven by the ability to bring distribution for cycling and fishing businesses under one roof, enabling each to enhance the quality of their service offerings to customers, benefit from economies of scale, and reduce distribution costs.
Although the two businesses distribute a completely different range of products and service an entirely different customer base, there was some synergy—after all, both businesses handle a lot of small products, parts and components.
Therefore, a key feature of the new distribution center is its goods-to-person order fulfillment system, which features software that automatically adjusts stock locations on a dynamic basis. Each time a SKU is retrieved, the software examines how often the SKU is required and puts the tote away accordingly. Fast-moving SKUs are stored toward the front of the system, thereby increasing the retrieval time, as slower-moving SKUs are stored toward the rear.
Each workstation is dual purpose and can be used for picking and replenishment. The workstation configuration—in which a single stock tote is presented to the operator, along with six order cartons (three on either side of the workstation)—has not only eliminated all the time that is spent traveling to locate and identify stock, but has also enabled multiple orders (requiring the same SKU) to be fulfilled concurrently.
When a tote arrives at the workstation, a monitor displays an image of the SKU along with the quantity to be picked. Pick-to-light displays show the number of items required for each order, virtually eliminating the potential for picking errors. And, although the system was designed to support 200 to 350 picks per hour (per workstation), some operators have nearly doubled that amount and achieved up to 500 picks per hour.
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