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Carousel proves a gem

12 December 2012

Group marketing executive Iain Gethin explains how Industore's automated storage systems helped jewellery retailer Argento grow its business We are almost always sought out to solve a floor-space or storage issue - a

Group marketing executive Iain Gethin explains how Industore's automated storage systems helped jewellery retailer Argento grow its business

We are almost always sought out to solve a floor-space or storage issue - a company is expanding and they need more storage space but at the same time they don't want to perform an expensive relocation to new premises. One such company that approached us for this very reason was leading women's fashion jeweller Argento.

In mid-2010 Argento was opening retail outlets and new challenges began to surface; more outlets meant more stock, which meant more space was being required. Space that, as Mel Boyle managing director at Argento explained, wasn't available.

"Before Industore installed the vertical carousel we used to store all of our stock in a traditional pallet racking system and as we grew we were requiring more and more space. So we were specifically looking for a solution that was going to fit into our existing premises as we are very limited for space on this site.

"If we hadn't implemented the Rotomat we would have had to have moved site for sure - that would have been the only alternative, and it would have been a significantly costlier alternative." Industore installed one of our fivemetre high Hänel Rotomats which is now mainly used to store Argento's two biggest brands: Pandora and Thomas Sabo. The Rotomat currently stores around roughly £1million worth of stock, however one box within the Rotomat could retail for £10,000 on its own. High value stock such as this is common in the jewellery industry and the need to secure it correctly is another reason that makes Industore's solution so useful to the industry.

Each Rotomat, aside from lockable sliding doors, is set-up with a secure access system that can be used to restrict access for individual users and to individual shelves within the Rotomat.

These two layers of security, in addition to the solid-steel build, make it a formidable storage solution to would-be thieves.

One of Argento's secondary objectives when tackling their storage challenge was to address the size of the stock that they carried. Instead of money being held up in stock, the resource could be used to continue the expansion of their retail outlets.

The way that we suggested this could be done was via another of the Rotomat's core attributes; the potential to increase picking speed and accuracy. Mel Boyle explains: "We probably have about £6m worth of stock, cost price, throughout the company at any given time and one of our objectives was to reduce that by £1m so we could use that money to open up more shops. The Hänel Rotomat helped us do that." The process to use the Rotomat in improving picking speed and accuracy is straightforward. Initially Argento has integrated its Warehouse EPOS directly into the Rotomat which generated individual pick lists for workers. The only initial issue was that the lists being generated were for each shop; so there was one for Edinburgh with all the stock needed, one for Glasgow with all the required stock and so on, for forty shops.

This was still proving just too time consuming for Argento.

What needed to happen was for this process to be reversed, working backwards from stock to shop. Adjusting the process to pick fifty of one item, then saying three to Edinburgh, twelve to Glasgow etc. in order to speed the order picking process.

Argento's EPOS provider wasn't set-up to perform the process that way around, so we helped Argento tailor the specialist MPX Software to integrate their EPOS Software and the Rotomat to do exactly what they wanted.

Speaking about how the system has improved overall organisation and efficiency, Mel Boyle pointed to a key example: "Our best day so far was around Christmas time. We were in from 8am to 8pm, now obviously we weren't picking for that whole time, but we managed to pick 13,000 items. I'd say that since the implementation of the vertical carousel we are easily doing things three or four times faster than we were.

"The old system was all manual, but with this new system I can have one person pick 1,000 items in as little as two or three hours. A third of that time is checking the order back! However we expect that time to decrease as we gain more confidence in working with the system - and all signs point to that happening." To conclude, the Industore solution helped Argento to streamline processes in addition to helping them gain the extra space that they initially sought out. These improvements have in turn helped to aid their continued retail growth and help them maintain their impressive bottom line statistics.