The 17th European Supply Chain Excellence Awards (2013) took place in style on 6th November at the glittering London Hilton on Park Lane. Hundreds of leading Supply Chain and Logistics Directors attended the Awards widely recognised as a trustworthy measure of the most outstanding examples of best practice. Sony DADC UK with support from The Logistics Business make it to the shortlist for two of the major Awards of the night – Supply Chain Operations and Team of the Year.

The competition this year was fierce with Sony coming up against such well-known names as “Asda with Kuehne + Nagel”, “Debenhams with DHL Supply Chain”, and “Jaguar Land Rover with Unipart Logistics”. There was delight all round when Sony DADC UK with The Logistics Business were announced winners in the ‘Team of the year’ category. A much deserved award particularly in view of the circumstances surrounding the Sony DAC UK nomination.

The memories of the 2011 London Riots for many live on. No more so than for Sony DADC when their Enfield distribution centre was set alight and the building, together with all stock was raised to the ground. The Sony team was quick to respond to the unexpected crisis. By 3 am – only hours after the initial fire, all the senior management team were already holding urgent conference calls and meetings to agree on a vital disaster recovery plan.

Over the weeks that followed the Sony team worked around the clock to put in place an interim facility and customer service was soon re-established. The task of re-building the DC in Enfield also started with an ambitious build and fit out period of just 23 weeks.  It’s not an understatement to liken the process to a phoenix rising out of the ashes. Sony DADC came back bigger and stronger for the experience.

The job of specifying requirements for the picking systems was given to The Logistics Business.  The task was to design a system that could handle twice the number of stock keeping units and twice the throughput, compared with the original. This resulted in a requirement to store and pick 50,000 different products and despatch 120 million items per year.  Getting to grips with these numbers required a good understanding of the Sony operations as well some careful modelling and analysis.

Sony also has to manage a significant returns operations and laying out the new facility presented an opportunity to re-think some of the returns processes.  The Logistics Business team were closely involved in this and were on hand to run a number of development Workshops where new processes were refined.

Although the new distribution centre had similarities to the old facility there were significant differences in pick layout, conveyor system and flow of product, so the operations team had many new methods and processes to take on board.  But with the very short overall time scales there was little time to absorb some of these changes.

In response, The Logistics Business team arranged an entirely new approach – involving 3D drawings to create a computer model of the facility and “day in the life” workshops where the operations team could take a virtual tour of the new facility and think through a wide range of operational issues in advance of go-live.

The new facility went live as planned in July 2012 and was shipping orders on the first day.  There was a period of ramp-up and development but the whole facility is fully operational for the 2012 Christmas sales period, which accounts for 50% of annual revenue.