This company is all about individual performance. The company's nutritional supplements are designed to bring out the best in athletes and active people everywhere.
The company strives for peak performance in all of its operational areas as well. However it found that one key part of the business, warehousing and order fulfillment, was in need of substantial enhancement.
This company had been shipping orders from an outdated facility that had one forklift and one conveyor line. Orders had to be moved and tracked manually — an approach not very well suited to a fast-growing organization with customers across North America and around the world.
Management moved to address the situation. They knew that they wanted an order-flow system that could keep up with current order volume while having plenty of expansion room for future demand. They wanted a system that was reliable and ergonomically friendly. They also wanted an operation that responded to customer needs in a fast and accurate manner.
They achieved all of these goals with the opening of a new modern distribution center. The 141,000 square foot facility seamlessly integrates a variety of conveyor equipment from Hytrol. It employs the latest scanning equipment and computer controls to ensure shipment accuracy and productivity. It also allows workers to focus on their jobs without having to worry about the risk of injury from heavy lifting or excessive manual handling.
"The installation and operation has gone extremely well," says the Vice President of Logistics and Distribution. The facility is processing 1,800 cases a day, she adds, with the capability to handle more.
Design and installation of the new conveyor system was a team effort between the company and the Hytrol Integration Partner.
To meet the critical objective of reliable and continuous flow of product, the team decided on an integrated series of proven Hytrol conveyors. These included gravity, horizontal power, and live roller units. The live roller accumulating conveyor, Model 138-SPEZ, has the EZ Logic feature. This exclusive feature from Hytrol senses product presence and controls accumulation and release of product from zone to zone. Other equipment includes power-pivot diverters and ball transfer tables.
The order-picking process begins in what are called the "7-Zone Production Lines." Guided by a touch screen computer and scanners, operators pick orders into boxes that rest on gravity lines on either side of the EZ Logic accumulating conveyor. If there are multiple boxes in an order, the operators are careful to keep them together as a "train." Orders are passed from zone to zone on the gravity conveyors. As soon as a single order or train of orders is complete, they are placed on the takeaway conveyor in the middle.
The boxes then move out of the picking zone and through an Accu-Sort scanner that triggers the power-pivot diverters. The diverters send the orders down one of four lanes, depending on the shipment method to be used — FedEx, USPS, LTL, and so forth.
The first stop for each order is a verifying station. At this point the order is verified, filled, and sealed. The order then proceeds to the manifest stations. Working on ball transfer tables here, operators do a final scan of the order and prepare it for the appropriate carrier.
In operation for just over a year now, the new installation has already delivered multiple benefits. "We've experienced higher shipping volume, better order accuracy, and a noticeable reduction in wrong orders shipped." Any order that is received by 2:00 p.m. is shipped out that day — accurate and complete.
The personnel working at the Distribution Center have benefited, too. All of the lifting now takes place in the individual's ergonomic target zone — that is, from the shoulders to the bottom of the hands. In addition, people on the lines only need to cover 16 feet, keeping walking and fatigue to a minimum.
One other important benefit bears mentioning. The company did not lose a single day of shipping during installation. The Hytrol Integration Partner was able to manage the project so that shipping could continue on an existing line while the new system was being completed.
The teamwork has paid off. The company now is fulfilling orders at the same peak performance level that its products deliver to customers.
Order-picking process begins on the "production lines." Orders here are moved on gravity conveyors from zone to zone. When completed, they are placed on takeaway conveyor in the middle. The boxes proceed out of the picking area toward the power-pivot diverters, which send them down one of four shipping lanes. Orders pass through a verifying station and then to the manifesting stations. At this point, the order is ready for shipment.