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Dematic’s software package for warehouse management used by Village Roadshow

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Village Roadshow recently opened a new state-of-the-art national distribution centre at Prestons, in Sydney’s outer western suburbs. The facility features an array of sophisticated information technologies including the latest order fulfilment technology, Dematic's Pick-To-Light, Voice and Radio Frequency technologies, as well as Dematic PickDIRECTOR, plus an integrated conveyor and sortation systems, integrated with a Manhattan Warehouse Management System, and Village Roadshow’s SAP system.

According to Roadshow Entertainment there were four key objectives in developing a new solution for Village Roadshow. They were to:

  • Increase throughput
  • Reduce labour costs
  • Measurably improve customer service levels, and
  • Provide full management and customer visibility

With the new DC and the implementation of Dematic PickDIRECTOR, SAP and the Manhattan Associates warehouse management system, Roadshow can now offer a far more transparent service with clear visibility.

In addition, delivery lead times have been reduced, from an average of a two-day turnaround from the previous Punchbowl DC, to an average of one-day, or same day turnaround with the new facility. This allows retail outlets to plan more accurately demand for titles, to hold fewer stock items on site, and to more quickly respond to requests from retail customers for their own out-of-stock titles.

In developing the new DC, Village Roadshow and systems supplier, Dematic, collaborated to design and install a fully integrated operation. The system features innovative order fulfillment technology, material flow and order fulfillment software, warehouse management software and an integrated ERP system.

All incoming stock is checked on receipt and allocated either to the bulk reserve storage area or, in many cases, directly to one of the four main picking areas. As orders are received, they are allocated to either full-case or split-case picking areas.

Village Roadshow uses Dematic’s sophisticated PickDIRECTOR software package for order induction and processing. PickDIRECTOR’s Graphical User Interface (GUI) provides staff a flexible workflow control and workload analysis tool that gives staff great visibility of the order fulfilment and picking process.

Three different shipper sizes can be chosen depending on the cube requirements of each order. Labels are placed onto each order shipper as it is inducted into the system, with the label serving as an identifier for picking requirements as the order travels from zone to zone.

As each order arrives in a zone it is scanned. The scan enables the activation of a variety of picking technologies including Pick-to-Light, Voice and RF data terminals, all supplied by Dematic. There are two separate points of order induction, one located at the start of the fast-moving split-case picking area and the other at the beginning of the medium and slow moving pick zones.

The picking task divides into two main categories: full-case and split-case picking. Full cases are picked from high-level order pickers using labels and RF terminals. Labels are printed as picking batches, including start and end-of-batch labels, with location, SKU and the actual pick are all confirmed through RF.

The split-case picking function has three separate modules designed to cater for varying movement rates:

  • fast-moving
  • fast-to-medium-moving
  • slow-moving

Fast-moving split-case items, which primarily consist of new releases or high volume re-promotes, are picked directly from pallets using Pick-To-Light technology. Lights are located on pallet beams above each pallet location and are activated as orders are scanned.

Reserve storage is available above the fast-moving split-case area, ensuring optimal efficiency when replenishment is required. Older catalogue stock represents the majority of medium-moving and slow-moving lines.

Fast-to-medium movers are located in five zones, with each zone consisting of CLS bays. The CLS zones are fitted with Pick-To-Light technology, activated by scanning the barcode on the order shipper. Use of Pick- To-Light in these zones speeds the picking operation and increases accuracy.

Slow-moving catalogue items are stored in shelving locations in a central zone, with orders picked using a flexible combination of Voice and RF terminals. The system has a special functionality designed to offer additional picking flexibility in meeting peak demand by allowing voice and RF terminals to be used in all zones concurrently with Pick-To-Light.

Management of material flow through the split-case picking areas is a complex task. Smart software coordinates order management and material flow using a zone-routing conveyor system. Orders can flow through all zones as necessary or skip those zones where picks are not required (zone skipping and early order exit functionality), helping to avoid bottlenecks in the conveyor system. The system also provides recirculation capability for orders that cannot be diverted to a specific zone. This functionality keeps the systems operational when a particular zone is full.

Once orders have passed through each of the required picking zones, they are check-weighed before void filling, sealing and then sorting to one of ten dynamic sort destinations, which are allocated based on geographical groupings and/or dynamic ship dates, and are designed to simplify truck loading and shipping. These sort destinations enhance the process of workload balancing and simultaneous delivery to various locations throughout Australia.

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