08 October 2018
Leading footwear brand uses UniCarriers trucks for a wide variety of warehouse tasks from putaway to picking.
Skechers has automated many operations in its 118, 000 sq m European DC near Liège but it still uses some 75 UniCarriers warehouse trucks to load and unload delivery trucks, ensure that the high-bay warehouse is restocked and assist in picking and preparing shipments.
After arrival of the goods shipped from China, the UniCarriers PLP and PMR pallet trucks empty the receiving area. Pallets are then transferred to the TERGO UMS heavy-duty reach trucks. These then take the pallets to the correct passageway in the narrow-aisle high-bay warehouse.
Multi-order picking enables Skechers to achieve a high picking rate. With the help of PPL low-level and OP medium- and high-level order pickers, the required goods are first pre-prepared for picking different customer orders. The order pickers climb grip heights up to 10 metres in the 60-aisle high-bay warehouse to pick.
The boxes are then transferred to an automatic sorter, which assigns their contents to individual customer orders. A shuttle acts as buffer storage for larger orders until the whole shipment has been picked. The automated process ends in the shipment area, where forklift trucks take over again. TERGO UMS reach trucks are normally used to distribute the goods to the shipping doors, allowing intensive work with a transport capacity of up to 2 tonnes. The numerous extensions to the EDC mean that there are now loading docks on both the north and south side. PLP and PMR pallet trucks are used for transporting over long distances within the facility and for loading the trucks. Some pallet trucks are fitted with extra-long forks, so that they can carry two pallets at the same time, allowing highly efficient work operations.
Skechers experiences peak operations in January to March and June to August when the new collections arrive. The firm handles 40% of total annual volume in the first three months alone, and needs more forklifts than usual during such labour-intensive periods.
Capacity is assured with a flexible model consisting of leased, rented and purchased vehicles. Skechers obtains hired trucks for one to three months based on need and returns them once the peak period is over. In the low season, the footwear company works with its customary fleet consisting of purchased forklifts and leased vehicles. UniCarriers replaces leased vehicles with new models every five years, giving Skechers access to a modern, high-performance fleet at all times. A service contract also ensures long operating times for the forklifts. The contract covers all maintenance and service work, a regular safety check and costs for repairs and replacement parts. A UniCarriers technician is permanently based at the Skechers facility due to the large number of vehicles. He carries out repairs within a designated workshop in the EDC, where the most important spare parts are stocked on a permanent basis, so that Skechers does not need to allow for any downtimes while waiting for repair materials.
Besides obtaining performance from its machines, Skechers also considers it essential to provide its drivers with a good workplace. That is why the company involves its employees in the new forklift selection process and attaches great importance to an ergonomic design and comprehensive safety features. All vehicles are limited to a maximum speed of 8 km/h and some also feature additional safety belts to minimise the risk of accidents during hectic operating schedules. The high-level order pickers are wire guided in the narrow aisles to allow the operator to fully concentrate on the picking process. The integrated level selector ensures a precise approach to the right stack level and thus rapid pallet handling.