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Shipping 100,000 items per day

11 April 2016

Innovative three-storey carton warehouse streamlines picking operation for rapidly expanding fashion retailer.

TGW Logistics has helped to consolidate the multi-location replenishment stock operation for fashion retailer Witt Group through the design and installation of an automated logistics solution for a three-storey high-bay carton warehouse (HBW). The facility accommodates around 41,500 SKUs and enables Witt to fulfil around 100,000 shipments a day.

Germany-based Witt Group provides sophisticated and stylish apparel and footwear for the over-fifties, together with a wide range of linen, textiles and household goods, all available through mail-order catalogues, stores and online. 

The company invested around €100 million over seven years in the development of its new logistics centre in Weiden as it sought to consolidate nine warehouses onto the one site and to accommodate its growing number of sales regions and its expanding product range.

€41 million has been invested in the most recent building on the site, Distribution Centre III (DCIII), which incorporates the three-storey high-bay warehouse, a goods receiving area and a 70-metre long glass bridge, which is used to transport cartons to and from the picking area in another facility, DCII. 

TGW was responsible for the steel work, conveyor and warehousing technology, the material flow and control system and the interfaces to the adjacent equipment in DCIII. The HBW is 28 metres high, 48 metres wide, 132 metres long and boasts 450,000 storage locations. 

DCIII also contains three rework workstations, six workstations for manual palletising. and seven workstations for quality management and the picking of single items. 

An average of 10,000 cartons with textiles from Europe and Asia arrive at Witt by lorry every day. After automatic labelling and barcode registration at four goods receiving stations, the cartons proceed to the first floor on the conveyor system, where volume and weight are measured automatically and the carton label is read optically via camera. The system then allocates a storage location for each carton. Thirty TGW Mustang Evolution storage and retrieval machines (SRM) with an overall performance of about 3,500 double cycles per hour supply the three levels with ten aisles each.

When required for picking, cartons are retrieved to a conveyor system loop with twelve buffer lanes on two levels in a Pick and Deposit area in front of the HBW and are pre-sorted into the sequence in which they will be required for picking onto roll containers in DC II. 

The cartons are transported batch by batch to the DC II on two conveyor system lines across the bridge. Once there, the picker pushes up to 16 automatically delivered cartons onto a roll container. Cartons that are no longer required for picking are transported back to the HBW via the bridge on a third conveyor system line. Over five kilometres of conveyor equipment have been installed in total.

The innovative TGW solution has helped to centralise Witt's warehousing requirement, save distance, time and costs, speed up product availability for picking and provide expansion possibilities for the future.

The merchandise management as well as ERP system are made by Witt. The material flow is managed by a Material Flow Controller (MFC) by TGW whose Commander controls also move the conveyor equipment and the storage and retrieval machines.

"A shuttle solution would have included large reserve capacities that we do not need for reserve warehousing. Moreover, a considerably higher investment would have been required," says Roland Dietz, Head of Logistics at Witt. "The three-storey high bay warehouse is the chief attraction of the installation. Both Witt and TGW Logistics have come closely together during the project. It has been good work, a very interesting project and a successful result."