Home>Warehouse Storage>Mezzanines>Clever use of space key as Kuehne + Nagel serves top UK fashion brand
Home>Warehouse Storage>Racking & shelving>Clever use of space key as Kuehne + Nagel serves top UK fashion brand
Home>Industry Sector>Retail/E-tail>Clever use of space key as Kuehne + Nagel serves top UK fashion brand
ARTICLE

Clever use of space key as Kuehne + Nagel serves top UK fashion brand

27 May 2014

SEC Storage has installed a space optimised storage and pick system for Kuehne + Nagel, to help the 3PL serve the needs of a top fashion brand. HSS editor Simon Duddy speaks to the team involved.

Fashion is fickle but there can be nothing fickle about how logistics reacts to changing fashion trends. When Kuehne + Nagel bid for a logistics contract with a high-end British fashion brand, it sought to bring logistical order and efficiency to a business that is inherently fast-moving and unpredictable.

 

Flexibility was therefore prized and Kuehne + Nagel sought to build this into a bespoke warehouse configuration provided by SEC Storage at its Milton Keynes facility.

 

The rationale was to provide a cubically efficient structure that accommodated 20,000 pickable SKUs, primarily the fashion industry standard BDCM1 boxes. The majority of the Pick Tower is a multitier pallet racking structure with rack supported walkways. The forward section is a conventional mezzanine floor with capacity for 10,000 garments on hanger (GOH). These are loaded and transported onto the structure for picking by a glide rail system complemented by a mechanical ground to first floor overhead conveyor.


"Most warehouses are inefficient. First look at what you store, then project growth and also project turn, and how frequently the stock changes. We passionately believe you can achieve more in your warehouse if you are prepared to re-plan it.”


While the garments on hanger is a relatively small element of the operation, SEC Storage considered the best solution in order to maximise capacity and picking efficiency. Typical garments were 950mm to 1000mm from hanger to tail therefore drop wells in the mezzanine floor area were created. This enabled three levels of garment picking as opposed to two, increasing capacity by 30% without increasing footprint or height. To prevent garments dropping into the packing area below safety netting was installed in the drop wells which also acted as a fall arrest system should pickers step in the well.

 

The BDCM1 boxes are stored on the pallet racking picking structure which utilises solid steel drop in decks to create each picking level. The abutting wide aisle pallet racking configuration is used to store the initial palletised loads, with these being transferred to the picking structure via various pallet gates. A 1st floor to ground conveyor was installed to transport the individual filled crates to the packing area ready for final inspection and labelling.

 

Kuehne + Nagel General Manager for Fashion Jim Longland says: "The plan was to offer the most competitive solution with flexibility, so rather than take extra square footage which increases cost, we use more of the cube.


"This is a major advantage in today’s fashion retail operations. For example, buyers frequently acquire products in bulk, meaning the retailer can suddenly need a lot more space. Instead of paying for more square footage, we help our client by fully utilising the cube.” The Pick Tower has therefore been configured with expansion in mind. It can can add another level under the eaves, which would boost picking locations by 9,000.




As well as saving space, the warehouse configuration has improved pick productivity. Care has been taken to place fast-moving stock as close to despatch as possible. The WMS plans the pick sequence from furthest pick on the floor to end up at the pallet gate or the conveyor.

 

"You have to look carefully at productivity in a picking tower. As well as saving money by optimising space, we have seen a productivity saving, with less traveling time for pickers. We use this installation as a flagship,” explains Jim.

 

SEC Storage’s Managing Director Steve Watts adds the two most significant costs are the warehouse space occupied and people.

 

"It is essential you consider your costs in the warehouse. Square footage should be a major consideration. The greater capacity that can be achieved in the smallest area can dramatically save cost of the actual warehouse space required. Maximising the cube, as in Kuehne + Nagel’s case further reduces cost.

 

"Secondly, analyse pick rates. Through analysis and managing stock well, pick rates start to go up dramatically and this can save on personnel and operational costs.”

 

Steve says companies often over-estimate the warehouse space they will require when planning for expansion. 

 

"They look at their history and don’t break it down analytically. There is often a presumption that growth equals greater footprint.

 

"In reality, most warehouses are inefficient. First look at what you store, then project growth and also project turn, and how frequently the stock changes.

 

"We passionately believe you can achieve more in your warehouse if you are prepared to re-plan it.”

 

Changing seasons

The flexible layout at the facility, which is part of a Kuehne + Nagel campus in this strategically important area for logistics, is tailor made for coping with seasonality. The key thing here is avoiding disruption as the bulk of picks come from new lines, but old lines must remain pickable, albeit at a lower priority.

 

Jim explains: "When a new season’s products come in, keep them together in one area or efficiencies will go. At the same time, if the product from previous seasons still hasn’t sold, that product needs to be moved.  

 

"Our structure is designed to have three separate floors, so we’re able to set one floor aside for the new season.”


The statistics

• Storage capacity for 27,456 cartons, 640 bulk pallet locations, and 10,000 GOH units.

• Management of over 20,000 SKUs.

• Stockholding of up to 650,000 units.

• Over 2 million units despatched per annum.

• 52,000 units eCommerce.

• 468,000 units to stores.

• 1.56m units to wholesale customers.

• Returns processing of 50,000 units per annum.

• Pick Tower installed in 9 weeks, 2 weeks ahead of schedule.



Some fashion warehouses separate their stock according to the source of the sale, into eCommerce, retail and wholesale, for example. Jim argues this is not efficient with Kuehne + Nagel adopting a different approach.

 

"With us stock is stored and picked in same area, an Omni-channel approach if you will, which is more efficient.

 

"You need to see the totality of stock. If you can’t see what the other parts of the business have got, you may order more, while another division has surplus. We manage the whole stock, it’s all available for every channel.”

 

This is impossible without a strong WMS dictating the play.

 

Kuehne + Nagel Business Development Manager Jules Buchanan says the company’s bespoke WMS is a key advantage that clients can call upon, although the 3PL will use a client’s own WMS if preferred.




"We have our own WMS, an in-house Kuehne + Nagel system, which includes developments specifically to support our fashion operations.

 

"It is a global WMS, so if a customer has locations worldwide, they are visible under the same log-in. A client can see their stock wherever it is.

 

"Many WMS programmes are a bolt-on to broader business software but as we are a logistics and warehousing business, the WMS is core to what we do.”

 

As a 3PL Kuehne + Nagel offers its leading fashion client a number of advantages. Operating a multi user facility, the 3PL is able to quickly adapt to the fast moving fashion world. But it is about more than outsourced storage.


"We have this expertise and capability on tap, which allows fashion brands and retailers to focus on other areas of the business which they might feel more passionate about like sales and merchandising.”


Jim explains: "It is important to understand a fashion brand’s processes. It is easy to get volume into a business, but understanding access is critical so everything is pickable, that’s the key.

 

"We have this expertise and capability on tap, which allows fashion brands and retailers to focus on other areas of the business which they might feel more passionate about like sales and merchandising.”


"It is the same with returns. A fashion retailer can see this grow 100% in a year, and they’ve got to take that volume in. It can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. What we offer is a process that releases credit for end customers and gets stock back into a sales channel as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

 

Kuehne + Nagel is using this exemplar case study to help it expand further in the fashion logistics sector.

SEC STORAGE WEBSITE

KUEHNE + NAGEL WEBSITE

 
OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS SECTION
FEATURED SUPPLIERS
TWITTER FEED