Trans-Tasman fashion and home décor catalogue company, EziBuy, have won a prestigious award for supply chain innovation for their new distribution centre at Palmerston North in New Zealand.
Presented by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, the award recognises notable innovation in systems and technology in the New Zealand supply chain sector.
EziBuy’s new distribution centre features a host of advanced logistics systems including Dematic’s Voice Directed Order Picking, and a 2.4km long smart conveyor system that only delivers orders to where they need to go, including enabling EziBuy to automatically send return goods directly back to their pick face location.
Developed in conjunction with Dematic, the project is already delivering good results for EziBuy, with picking productivity alone increasing from an average of 38 lines per person per hour to 89, and up to 160 in fast pick zones.
EziBuy’s Project Manager, Logistics Consultant Scott Kerr, said the key to the significant rise in productivity had been the successful integration of new order picking technologies with automated materials handling systems and software.
“We chose Dematic to be our systems designer and integrator because they were the most experienced when it came to Voice Picking, having supplied hundreds of terminals through the region over the past couple of years,” said Scott Kerr.
“Dematic’s project management experience was also invaluable when it came to scheduling the various activities that were required to pull a project of this scale into shape in less than 12 months,” he said.
“We really placed Dematic’s people under a lot of pressure to meet our tight construction schedule, and they never once failed to deliver.
“From design concepts and alternative picking strategies through to commissioning equipment in difficult circumstances, their performance was outstanding.”
Scott Kerr added: “And Dematic’s professionalism and commitment to customer service didn’t stop when the project was finished. Since commissioning they have been very actively involved in helping us tweak the system to make sure it delivers the best possible return on investment,” he said.
The new distribution centre project was investment-based around a forecast increase in picking productivity.
“The average picking rate at our old facility was 38 lines per person per hour. We are now achieving an average of 63 lines per person per hour,” said Scott Kerr.
“In our Fast Pick Zone, that figure is even more impressive, with productivity rates of up to 160 lines per person per hour! The weighted average across all three areas is now 89 lines per person per hour and there is still room for further improvement,” he said.
“The reality is that Voice Picking has performed even better than we imagined,” explained Scott Kerr.
“Our people have taken to it very quickly, with some of them up and working within three hours. The feedback is always the same, they all love the hands and eyes-free picking opportunity that Voice Picking delivers,” he said.
“Our philosophy and our name itself drives everything we do as a business and we are only as good as our supply chain,” added Scott Kerr.
“We have improved the quality, speed, accuracy and reliability of our service to customers, and delivered significant operational improvements to the business.
“We have reduced the cost of picking orders, increased accuracy, improved OH&S for our people and greatly increased throughput, which will enable us to continue growing the business over the next five years.
“Our new integrated IT systems provide us with real-time supply chain visibility and control of our logistics systems, and give us the ability to quickly and safely pick, pack and despatch goods accurately, reliably and at a competitive price,” he said.
Commenting on the CILT Supply Chain Innovation Award, EziBuy’s Chief Executive, Mary Devine, said: “We are delighted to have won the award. It confirms our position at the forefront of supply chain and distribution technology and the significant contribution we are making to the industry.”
“Importantly, it recognises the work of the EziBuy team, our consultant Scott Kerr and key suppliers who were involved in the distribution centre project.”
“The technology is revolutionary and gives us the capacity to more than double our current output. It is reducing our costs and the time it takes to distribute parcels while enhancing safety.”
EziBuy currently distribute 9,000 parcels containing over 30,000 items to Australasian customers each day. The distribution centre has the capacity to house 204,000 shipping cartons and distribute up to 83,000 items per day.