Oursourced efulfilment specialist iForce was facing a good problem to have – more business from key customer John Lewis Direct. Their targets were therefore increased throughput and higher levels of customer service. These were acheived with the help of The Logistics Business.
The Logistics Business brought fresh thinking and insight, together with analysis of the operation and influence over the final solutions. The revised solution was to pick from shelving and ground floor racking, increasing the maximum picking throughput dramatically. Processes supporting the picking operation were also changed, with a move to a replenishment regime involving direct put away in pick locations from goods in. The key change was to recognise that picking is for individual customers, so replenishment was reorganised to be closer to a retail store, rather than a traditional warehouse. ‘This has been a significant change’, commented iForce. ‘With the pressure to reduce inventory and have more rapid stock turn, up to fifty percent of goods go straight to the pick face, speeding up replenishment by hours and resulting in better product availability for customer orders’.
The total transformation took just three months. The Logistics Business followed up on designs and recommendations with project support including equipment tender documents, supplier meetings and tender evaluations. Throughout the project, which included moving 90% of the warehouse stock, the operation continued to serve John Lewis Direct. The Logistics Business used the iFlow modelling tool, which maps projected flows of product into, out of and around a distribution centre. Different layouts were assessed and labour modelling used to prove congestion would no longer be a problem. This allowed for comprehensive sensitivity analysis to prove the operation would cope with considerable future growth.
The result was that the new operation ‘sailed through’ an increased Christmas peak and iForce were able to push back the date for last orders.