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Improve productivity with SDI Group

01 August 2013

SDI Group specialist in the provision of integrated materials handling solutions for retail, wholesale, fulfilment and ecommerce distribution operations.

The Group’s collective experience and expertise encompasses the entire spectrum of distribution centre operation and infrastructure, from consultation, design and building to installation, maintenance and support.

As a global systems integrator, the Group designs solutions which improve productivity and retail sales margin while supporting sales growth. SDI Group has operations in the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain the Netherlands and Chile. With over 30 years of experience operating in the retail sector SDI boasts an impressive customer base that includes iconic names such as; Hugo Boss, Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch, ASDA, and House of Fraser. Indeed, the House of Fraser project well illustrates the qualities of the SDI Group.
The Project
A rapid and sustained growth in online business combined with already strong store sales had led House of Fraser to begin planning a substantial upgrade to its logistics function in 2010. And it was to distribution handling specialist SDI Group that the company turned for systems to handle its throughput of fashion product, representing almost 50% of all stock units.

The Challenge
With 61 busy retail stores to serve and web sales fast becoming House of Fraser`s busiest single "store”, the existing distribution hub at Milton Keynes was already at capacity.

Creating a new national distribution centre for House of Fraser, designing & installing a fast, flexible and efficient fashion goods handling system within a demanding timeframe was key.

The Solution
A new 254,000ft2 site in Wellingborough was selected, and work on the project commenced in early 2011. Existing infrastructure was removed and new racking with 10,000 pallet positions was installed to accommodate home or non-fashion stock. To handle fashion lines a three floor mezzanine was built providing a further 190,000ft2 of storage and picking space. SDI group was tasked with creating solutions to handle all fashion items, comprising boxed goods and hanging garments and including stock for the company’s in-store concessions. After a detailed assessment of the client’s needs, SDI Group proposed a hanging garment conveyor system together with a box conveyor to serve the mezzanine levels and, after fine tuning, SDI Group’s engineers went on site in November .

SDI Group’s hanging garment system played a key role, taking incoming stock from two dedicated bays in the Goods In area and feeds grouped items on overhead rails straight to the rear of the warehouse to be checked and receipted. Garments due for immediate despatch are then routed to a marshalling area for sorting by store and whilst the company aims to match intake to store orders as closely as possible, product to be held in stock remains on the hanging garment system and is moved on a powered overhead conveyor to the third mezzanine level for storage.

The Result
The installation was completed on schedule in early January. House of Fraser`s Head of Distribution, Tony Carr, said: "We moved a lot of stock into Wellingborough in the autumn and we had to ensure that service to stores was maintained. We worked closely with SDI Group to ensure their access wasn’t impeded by the ongoing operational requirements and together we met all our targets."

The site is now processing stock at a rate equivalent to some 33 million items a year and enabling the retailer to replenish its stores quickly and efficiently while satisfying the demands of its online customers. And as demand grows, House of Fraser is confident that the site’s "future-proofing” against higher volumes - through wider implementation of automation and IT solutions, the use of spare capacity on the mezzanines and the option to further extend them – will pay dividends.