European Conveyor Systems (ECS) has played a major role in a 2.5 million project to expand warehousing facilities for fashion retailer Boden in Leicester, from which 12,500 parcels a day are currently despatched to customers.
The extra warehouse capacity has been achieved by linking two buildings with a two-way conveyor in a 90-metre-long covered bridge and installing new racking and conveyors to minimise walking time for staff and improve productivity.
The conveyor system installed by ECS is designed to carry a wide variety of cardboard cartons and plastic tote boxes up to a maximum weight of 20kg from the goods-in reception area to specified storage locations and onward to picking areas in both buildings, as determined by bar-codes on each item read by automatic scanners at transfer routing points. Throughput was specified by Boden at 480 boxes an hour over a 16-hour day, six days a week.
In-coming cartons are off-loaded from pallets at ten work-stations in the new building and identified with individual bar code labels that are scanned into a computer-based control system and which specifies their destination in the warehouses. The boxes are then pushed on to a conveyor which carries them to a specified location in multi-level bulk storage areas in the two buildings. Mis-coded or damaged boxes are diverted automatically on to a separate spur to be dealt with.
The conveyor system includes zero-pressure accumulation sections at transfers and bar-code reader points, which allows boxes to queue without touching. If an accumulation section becomes full, the system dies back on a cascade basis and then re-starts automatically when the accumulation clears.
The main conveyor running from the goods-in area through the bridge to the original warehouse is reversible to allow cartons and boxes to be transported back to the start point at designated times. Steel shutters provide one-hour fire resistance where the bridge conveyor meets the two buildings.