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3PL automates carton processing

23 October 2019

BS Handling Systems automated carton processing for supply chain service provider Advanced Supply Chain Group.

When looking to enhance processes to improve efficiency and productivity for its fashion retail operation, Advanced Supply Chain Group turned to BS Handling Systems to automate carton processing. At its Bradford facility, Advanced Supply Chain Group reprocesses circa 1.5 million units of stock from around 150 different suppliers every week.

Personnel unpack deliveries, ensure the consignment is correct and then carry out quality checks before repackaging the items into a compliant box size suitable for the automation system.

As part of a £350,000 automation project, BS Handling Systems installed two conveyor systems at the Bradford facility. The first conveyor is an 84 metre long two-tier powered system which runs in-between a series of workbenches. Repackaged items are placed on to the bottom tier of the conveyor where they are taken to the other side of the building for sortation.

Waste cardboard packaging is placed on to the top tier of the conveyor. Each end of the top conveyor meets in the middle where waste cardboard drops on to a 24 metre long dunnage conveyor which transports it to a compactor. At this point, the two-tier conveyor system rises up to a height of 2.4 metres, allowing personnel and trucks to safely pass underneath.

At the end of the main line, the conveyor splits into three lanes. There are two lanes for despatch destinations and a third lane for any rejected cartons which are incorrect or unreadable. A barcode scanner checks the item and then a swivel wheel sorter directs it to the correct lane based on its outbound destination. Orders are grouped together by both barcode number and destination, then stacked on pallets.

Automated destination despatch

When full, the pallets are taken to a despatch conveyor - also installed by BS Handling Systems. Personnel feed the cartons on to an incline conveyor where they pass through another scanner check. This system also features a rejected carton lane for any errors.

Once checked, cartons are taken outside the building onto a platform. They are scanned again to determine which of two destination lanes the swivel wheel sorter needs to send them along. Each destination lane connects to a telescopic loading boom conveyor which enables cartons to be loaded straight into lorry trailers for onwards despatch.

John Howe, head of operations at Advanced Supply Chain Group comments: “BS Handling Systems worked with us to understand our throughput volumes and requirements. They were very willing to collaborate with us to produce the best solution and accommodated many design changes during the process. The system has enabled us to double our throughput capacity, reduce the number of shifts needed per day and reduce lead times.”