Retailer gets order shipping down to 30 minutes
03 October 2019
Vast automated warehouse ensures over 30 million articles are shipped from Wehkamp’s warehouse every year.
Leading online retailer in the Netherlands, Wehkamp, is operating a highly automated distribution centre that enables it to have customer orders ready for shipment within 30 minutes of receipt.
Featuring automated logistics systems from KNAPP, the facility in Zwolle – which was the largest automated e-commerce DC in the world when it opened in 2015 – was recently extended to meet growth forecasts. Built with a focus on sustainable design, its roof is completely covered by solar panels, allowing Wehkamp to meet 40-50 per cent of the building’s power requirements.
Originally a mail order business, Wehkamp began selling online in 1995 and became a pureplay retailer in 2008. The company has an article range of more than 430,000 items including fashion, household goods, electronics, sports, beauty and toys. More than 30 million articles are shipped from the warehouse every year to 2.7 million customers, and Wehkamp’s delivery promise is that orders placed by 11:59 pm will be delivered the next day.
Scalable design of the system meant that the recent expansion was relatively simple and took place during ongoing operation. The double-deep OSR Shuttle storage system was expanded by three extra rack lines to make a total of 21. With 26 levels, its 546 shuttles serve a total of 556,000 storage locations. Two cross-belt sorters connect the storage area with the picking area. The system’s design means that most articles need only be handled once during order processing.
When the OSR Shuttle store was extended, four more pick stations were added, bringing the total to 28. Explained Sander Bolmer, warehousing & distribution director for wehkamp.nl says: “When a customer places an order, the order is allocated to one of our 28 Pick-it-Easy workstations. The OSR Shuttle then automatically delivers the right items to the workstations. Our employees can work on 6 customer orders simultaneously, which allows us to pick up to 12,300 items per hour.”
With large apparel ranges, Wehkamp has to handle a significant number of returns. Returns handling is undertaken at 129 workstations, where employees check the returned goods, repack them and prepare them for storage in the OSR Shuttle.
The warehouse also features 16 decanting stations and three automatic carton erectors at goods-in, as well as automatic packing lines that reduce the height of dispatch cartons to suit their fill level to optimise the use of space in delivery vehicles. KNAPP’s high-speed Streamline conveyor system transports containers throughout the entire warehouse. There is also a small manual area for value-added services, where gift wrapping and other tasks can be performed at up to 20 workstations on peak days. Parcels are sorted for their various destinations at a total of 140 sortation ramps and KNAPP’s KiSoft software controls and optimises all the processes in the warehouse.