Large food retailer improves efficiency, storage density and store-friendly delivery with new order fulfilment system

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Combined pallet and tote handling system built by Vanderlande Industries guarantees efficient, store-friendly delivery

To prepare for the demands of the future,  a well-known food retailer has equipped its Logistics Centre in Germany with a new Vanderlande order fulfilment system for the smaller, slow-moving products in its product range. The project partners focused on the entire goods flow in the process, from Receiving up to shelf replenishment in the retail outlets.

The challenge
The food retailer was confronted with a dramatic increase in product diversity and a significant rise in sales of smaller, slow-moving products, while overall turnover had remained the same. The quality of the outer packaging had significantly worsened. The company found itself facing the daunting challenge of finding a cost-effective and efficient order fulfilment system with ergonomically designed workstations. In close cooperation with the client, Vanderlande developed the solution: An AS/RS for pallets and totes, combined with a goods-to-man order picking system.

One of the projects objectives was to manage storage and order fulfilment of up to 8,000 different products from 16 product families on 7,500 m floor space, without sacrificing floor space in Receiving and Despatch.

The solution
In Receiving a 2-aisle AS/RS for pallets (2,052 locations) takes care of replenishment. Pallets are presented to the operators at an ergonomic height at six repacking stations. They remove the required items and place them in product totes. Operators can adjust pallet height using push-buttons. Operators put the items into product totes based on instructions they receive from SAP LES/TRM. Product totes are sent to the 20-aisle miniload AS/RS. For order picking the product totes are retrieved on an individual order basis and transported to one of the twelve order picking workstations. The order picker takes the number of items indicated on the SAP LES/TRM screen from the product  tote and places them in an order/shipping tote. Order picking performance at these workstations exceeds 320 items per hour. After picking, the order totes are labelled and stored in a buffer. They are released for delivery on demand at exactly the right time, in exactly the right sequence. This ensures optimum sequencing of forklift truck traffic to the Despatch area. Three of these order totes can be stacked on top of each other in the delivery truck. Two such stacks have the same footprint as a Euro pallet, so that the available floor space in the truck can be used significantly more efficiently. Handling in the retail outlets is also much easier for staff.

Customer benefits
Vanderlande was selected because it proposed the most efficient, reliable solution, making excellent use of the available space, creating high storage density and high order picking performance. Before system design started, a detailed study was done of the handling processes at each workstation. The results of this study led to process improvements and resulted in ergonomically designed workstations. High repacking and order picking performance has been achieved in combination with improved order picking quality. The client also benefits from lower transport costs. Because orders are picked directly into order totes, the floor space in the delivery trucks is used much more efficiently. As a result, fewer vehicles are required to make the deliveries to the retail outlets. This approach has also reduced damage during product handling. The new order totes have also made it easier to replenish store shelves.

The project team succeeded in installing and commissioning the complete system in advance of the agreed date. The defined system availability and performance targets were achieved sooner than had been contractually agreed. From the very start of the project, partnership and collaboration led to positive acceptance of the complete system in all areas throughout the entire process.
For more information about order fulfilment systems, visit the Vanderlande Industries website at

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