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Swisslog provides modern facility for major European book distributer

12 December 2012

Swisslog provides modern facility for major European book distributor

The customer and their requirements

“Boksentralen” - the first distribution center for books in Norway - was established in 1922 by book retailers and publishing companies. “Boksentralen” was a distribution centre which handled and coordinated incoming orders and shipments of books. In 1964 Gyldendal and Aschehoug established Forlagsentralen ANS and in 1973 Boksentralen became a part of this.

The current ownership of Forlagssentralen is today divided equally (50/50) between Gyldendal ASA and H. Aschehoug & Co. (W. Nygaard) AS. Forlagssentralen is Norway's largest distributor of books and delivers logistics and reporting services to the book industry. It has strategically important functions, both as a distributor of books from publishers to retailers and end users/customers and as a manager of order functions and cash flow between publishers and retailers.

The solution

The distribution centre became operational in 2007 and encompasses a flow of goods handled on pallets, in totes or in boxes. Pallets are unloaded from incoming trucks and checked into the plant's receiving area where goods are identified and checked against the purchase orders in SAP.

All goods are weighed and measured before being labelled and transported to the high-bay, the conventional storage area or directly to the picking area. The manual picking area is serviced by a shuttle car.

Boxes start by the automatic box erection machines which, by use of the light goods conveyor system and lifts, supply the picking stations with boxes.

Customer orders are picked to totes or boxes from full pallets (high frequency goods) or from ergonomic picking positions which are serviced by eight rapid miniload cranes. The picking areas are equipped with a pick-by-light system and a major portion of products are dynamically exposed in the picking stations' tote positions.

Once the picking of a specific article is complete, the tote is pushed back to the crane, allowing a new product to be exposed. Completed boxes/totes are transported to the packing and shipping area via an integrated conveyor system.

For customers who have ordered large quantities of the same product, it is possible to ship out a full pallet. Likewise, if the same product is to be distributed to many customers it is possible to execute a batch-pick at the ergonomic picking stations.

A batch-pick can be split in accordance with the individual customer order at the packing tables. In cases of particularly large quantities of the same product, a pallet may be transported by use of the vertical conveyor directly through to packing and despatch.

A light goods conveyor system, connecting each of the picking stations to the packing stations and despatch area, is located on the mezzanine. All boxes are weighed prior to being fixed with an internal lid to stabilize the contents, an external lid, address details and a label of its content. The boxes are then transported by use of a lift to the ground floor where boxes and packed books are automatically sorted in different lanes before being loaded onto pallets or in postal cages for transportation to customers.

Goods that cannot be handled in the automatic storage due to their size are located in the conventional storage area, where there is also an area for returned goods.

Advantages

> Distribution capacity developed to suit future market demands and order structures.
> Handles orders both to retailers and end-users/customers.
> All products are available for picking at all times.
> Flexible solution.
> Increased handling capacity.
> Increased efficiency and profitability.
> Improved ergonomics.
> Increased picking accuracy.
> Reduced damage to goods.

Swisslog's scope of supply

> Consultancy, simulation, design, engineering, installation and integration of the whole distribution center.
> Delivery and integration of a complete pallet and light goods system.
> Delivery and integration of a complete automatic high-bay warehouse with pallet and miniload cranes.
> Fully automatic packing machines and box erectors.
> Development and delivery of ergonomic picking stations
> Swisslog's WarehouseManagerâ„¢ system and material handling system.

Interview with Einar J. Einarsson, CEO

what prompted the search for a new solution?
Forlagssentralen had a 15 year old semi-automatic logistics system for books which was due for an upgrade/replacement. We wanted to expand and automate the distribution of books to the end users/customers in addition to the shipments to publishers. At the same time we wanted to build a new distribution centre and implement a new and holistic IT solution.

How did you end up with the solution you have chosen?
Based on our specified capacity needs, we received suggestions to possible solutions which we continued to work on together with two potential suppliers. Swisslog ended up being our final choice.

what were your main goals with this distribution centre?
We wanted a system which would service both retailers and end users/customers which was both efficient, economically sound, and offered good quality in distribution.

What are the advantages with the new solution?
Everything is in one place, with integrated connections to retailers and end users/customers and a high degree of automation.

What were the biggest challenges in this project?
The timeframe, tests and start-up.

Which are the most important parts of this solution?
The automated picking of books where all titles shall be available anytime.

How did you establish contact with Swisslog?
Swisslog had delivered logistics equipment to our previous plant.

What made you choose Swisslog as your supplier?
In our opinion they had the best solution and the most attractive offer from an economic point of view.

How did you find working with Swisslog during the project period?
The cooperation and process was good, however, this was put to the test towards the end of the project when delays occurred.

How do you find working with Swisslog at the moment?
Good. Short response times are important when stops occur in a system operational for 16 hours a day, five days a week.

How do your employees feel about the new solution?
Overall they are content, but on reflection we should have focused more on training.

Has the new solution lived up to your expectations?
After two years of operation, our expectations have been met and we have had a very good increase in productivity. However, the time it took to achieve a stable and secure operation was too long.

How satisfied are you with the return from the Swisslog solution?
We are now starting to see the expected results.

How is the daily work affected by the logistics solution?
It is absolutely vital in our daily work. This is our core business.

What level of service are you able to provide to your customers?
We ship books to retailers all over the country three times a week. Shipments to end users/customers are done on a continuous basis. The quality related to deliveries has improved, even though there are still areas with potential for further improvement.
 
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