In August, 2011 at the height of the riots that afflicted London, the Enfield distribution centre of Sony DADC, was set alight and the building, together with all stocks of CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs was totally destroyed. Over the weeks that followed the Sony team worked all hours to set up an interim facility and customer service was soon re-established. But then began the task of re-building in Enfield which included a warehouse picking systems design.
An early decision was taken to re-build on the existing foundations but to raise the roof by two metres to accommodate an additional level of mezzanine floor. This would allow for growth and ensure that the customer base could be increased whilst offering continued excellence in customer service. Work commenced on re-construction in January, 2012 with an ambitious build and fit out period of just 23 weeks.
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 not much time to absorb those changes. To address this problem, 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 was fully operational for the 2012 Christmas sales period, which accounts for 50 per cent of annual revenue.