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Storage investment helps apparel distributor boost pick rates

06 January 2021

SEC Storage has designed and installed a future proof, multi-tier picking structure solution at Focus International providing a 40% increase in storage capacity.

Apparel distributor Focus International supply some 10 million units to major high street retailers.

At its warehouse in St Albans, Focus stocks a vast range of fashion and sports brands and apparel within a narrow aisle pallet racking system. Goods received from primarily overseas manufacturers arrive containerised, are then placed in the unloading bays, added to the WMS and then moved via forklifts to be stored appropriately throughout the facility before onward distribution.

However increased growth and throughput requirements were putting a strain on the existing system and Focus came to SEC Storage to find a solution for their strategy going forward. The articulated truck pallet racking was no longer sustainable as a business model and an urgent requirement was to increase pick faces.

Following a comprehensive site survey, in-depth data analysis and system modelling, SEC Storage put forward a solution for a multi-tier picking structure encompassing all lighting and data communication required, fully designed and installed by the team at SEC. 

The solution offered a complete change from the way Focus had been working previously and as SEC collaborated with them during Brexit, this meant the system selected had to be very flexible as any manufacturing or import decisions could have influenced a change in requirements. Overall the new structure is a bespoke design that incorporates the capacity for convertible pick-faces from static to dynamic carton flow, allowing the flexibility for change that is necessary due to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and the changing demographics of Focus’ marketplaces. Future conversions offer the opportunity to increase storage capacity and pick-efficiency further as the business grows, and to do so without carrying out any structural amendments.

Implementing the SEC Storage solution has provided Focus with a 40% increase in storage capacity, an innovative design allowing it to convert from static to dynamic at will, the installation of spiral shoots with the ability to convert to power spirals within the existing warehouse, as well as a significant increase in throughput.

In addition to the vastly improved storage and throughput efficiencies, the key ROI came through staff efficiencies as the business was able to increase overall productivity by over 50%. The solution offered the ideal conduit for growth using the existing skilled staff, simply reallocated within the company structure. 

As part of the longer term strategy for Focus International, SEC Storage has outlined a phase two of the project to be installed across the warehouse which could deliver automation elements such as conveyors, further demonstrating the benefit of this future proofed design. 

For more information, visit http://sec-online.co.uk/storage