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Home>Automation>Picking & sortation>Fossil responds fast to changing online trends

Fossil responds fast to changing online trends

12 February 2014

Swisslog has kitted out a multi-purpose logistics centre for leading fashion brand Fossil, with an emphasis on speed and flexibility.

Fossil specialises in the design and marketing of handbags, watches, fashion and jewellery etc. It sells its products through brick-and-mortar stores as well as online: retail, wholesale and e-commerce thus go hand-in-hand. This multi-channel approach presented Fossil with entirely new challenges, especially in terms of logistics.

Josef Otter, CEO of Fesco, the European logistics provider for Fossil and a wholly-owned subsidiary explains: "Our logistics operation is in a constant state of change and faces an increasing pressure to optimise its operations.”

High sales figures with strong seasonal fluctuations, a broad product range with constant additions, large and small order quantities from customers, as well as dramatic reductions in delivery times, characterise the nature of Fossil’s logistical challenges. The former logistics infrastructure could not keep pace with this development. Fossil required a considerable expansion of its former warehouse and picking capacity.

Swisslog Germany MD Dr Volker Jungbluth explains: "We have implemented a future-proof solution for Fossil by combining an existing five year-old zone-to-zone picking system with state-of-the-art shuttle technology. In this way, we were able to considerably improve the performance of the overall system in every aspect.

"If a former B or C item suddenly gains popularity, the SmartCarrier system automatically adds it to the zone-to-zone picking system.”

"The adaptability of the system to constantly changing items and order sizes is exemplary, and the flow of goods is time-saving and efficient. Every workstation is optimally utilised without idle time. Error rates for picking are virtually zero.”

By connecting the SmartCarrier system to the existing zone-to-zone picking system, Swisslog made the picking process lean and seamless. Only B and C items are stored and picked in the new automated system, which are slower moving products. This prevents slowing down the workflow in the existing zone-to-zone, pick-by-light system, which now only handles bestselling A products. This has greatly improved efficiency; and thanks to a continuous flow of merchandise, the picking stations in the old system are now optimally utilised.

In addition to handling less popular products, the new SmartCarrier system also performs an important warehousing function, by providing the flexibility that Fossil needed from its intralogistics infrastructure. For example, the seasonal business for fashion accessories is very dynamic; today’s fast-moving items can quickly become tomorrow’s slow-movers, and vice versa. If a former B or C item suddenly gains popularity, the SmartCarrier system automatically adds it to the zone-to-zone picking system. Likewise, items no longer in high demand are removed from the zone-to-zone picking and placed in the SmartCarrier system. The exchange between the two systems takes place so quickly and smoothly that Fossil can respond immediately to any and all customer requests.

Aside from its B and C item handling and its backup capability, SmartCarrier offers impressive performance no matter how it is used. It is a powerful logistics solution with a throughput of more than 1,600 totes per hour. The shuttles are designed for a speed of up to two metres per second. Up to 6,000 totes can be stored in each aisle, and each tote can carry a load of up to 35kg. The system is designed for continuous operation and can be expanded when its capacity limit is reached. Because of SmartCarrier’s modular design, it is easy to increase the number of aisles, levels and shuttles as needed. Picking stations can also be added to increase the number of workstations.

At the Fesco facility, the SmartCarrier system is designed as a 6-aisle automated case warehouse on 19 levels with approximately 35,600 storage locations and currently 12 picking stations. If necessary, the number of picking stations can be increased to a maximum of 32. The system accommodates 5,000 items, which are stored in totes and transported by a 2.2km conveyor to the different workstations. Every day the new system processes up to 40,000 order lines, which corresponds to approximately 5,600 customer orders in the same time period.

To prevent operator errors, Swisslog made sure the system is straightforward, with easy to operate picking stations. The merchandise is automatically retrieved from the SmartCarrier warehouse and transported to the workstations. There a display shows the pickers how many items to remove and, guided by a pick-by-light system, they transfer these items to the target totes. Each picking station can manage up to 28 active order totes. The picking process at the workstations is highly efficient because it is based on order lines rather than orders. When a source tote arrives at a picking station, the picker first distributes all order lines for an item to the different target totes. Then the SmartCarrier system returns the source tote to storage while simultaneously delivering a different item to the picker.