The handling system supplied by warehouse automation specialist, Knapp AG, to Boots UK at its new distribution facility in Burton-upon-Trent has won the prestigious Retail Award at the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards.
At a black-tie ceremony held at the London Hilton on Park Lane on Tuesday 6 November, Boots with Knapp received the accolade in the presence of more than 500 executives from leading companies in the logistics industry. The team secured the prize in the face of strong competition from the other nominees, ASOS with CitySprint, Nisa with DHL Supply Chain and RSPB.
The Retail Award was presented to David Rice, Unit Manager for boots.com, and David James, Managing Director of Knapp UK Ltd, by Hans-Herbert Schultz – Managing Director of category sponsor, Jungheinrich UK Ltd – and the comedian, Ed Byrne.
This latest accolade brings the total number of awards won by the automated handling system at Boots UK's Burton Service Centre to five. At the 2012 Grocer Gold Awards in June, Knapp scooped the 'Technology & Logistics Supplier of the Year' award. Also in June, Boots won the Operational Excellence accolade at the Supply Chain Distinction Awards in Berlin. Then, in September, Boots with Knapp won the Retail Week Supply Chain Award for the 'Logistics Distribution Development of the Year' for the Burton facility. The Retail Week judges commented on the Boots system: "The winner is a complex, well-planned and well-executed project that represents a bold step by the retailer." October saw the award of the fourth prize – the GDS International 'Leader in Innovation' accolade – presented to Knapp at the NG Retail Summit in Milan, the convention for the worldwide food and retail industry.
£50 million investment
Boots UK, which is a member of Alliance Boots, opened its new distribution facility in Burton-upon-Trent in February 2012. It invested over £50 million in the facility, which included the purchase of the existing 460,000 sq ft building – the area of six football pitches – its total refurbishment and the automated handling systems. The building encompasses the retailer's UK Christmas Gift operations and its growing International Retail distribution facility. The third element is the e-commerce fulfilment operation for boots.com using a multichannel system supplied by Knapp. The retailer had experienced rapid growth in its online operations, driving a move from its outsourced, largely manual operation in Birmingham to in-house fulfilment in the new Burton Service Centre. The solution supports order processing for the product lines of the company's e-commerce operation.
Automated shuttle storage
At the heart of the solution are 12 of Knapp's OSR Shuttle systems, which provide automated storage combined with goods-to-person order picking at eight ergonomically designed Pick-it-Easy workstations. Ideal for slow- and medium-moving goods, the OSR Shuttle systems process the majority of the inventory at Burton. Fast-moving products, meanwhile, are picked in a flow rack area at one of eight workstations that utilise pick-to-light technology.
Knapp also supplied its KiSoft WMS (warehouse management system) and KiSoft WCS (warehouse control software) to optimise all warehouse movements and processes. In addition, Boots UK contracted Knapp to provide a team of resident engineers in order to maintain the handling solution.
Efficiency increased by 65%
The system has increased time efficiency by 65% compared to the previous manual operation, while also improving order traceability. The solution is already providing a significant reduction in variable costs and its modular design provides a platform for further growth.