New Zealand’s largest grocery distributor, Foodstuffs South Island Ltd (FSSI) has placed an order with Dematic to supply a seismic-proof ColbyRACK storage system.
Along with the ColbyRACK purpose-built to deal with the forces generated by seismic events, Foodstuffs has also sought a multi-level order picking module, conveyor sorting system and associated order fulfilment software for its new 46,000m² distribution centre (DC) in Christchurch.
Essentially a Greenfield project, the new DC will be physically connected to FSSI’s existing 13,000m² ambient DC at Hornby, which has been providing centralised distribution to the co-operative’s members for the past five years.
The Greenfield DC, which will also consolidate operations from FSSI Papanui DC in Christchurch, will have the capacity to store more than 40,000 pallets to a height of 10.7m, and is expected to begin distributing stock by the third quarter of 2014.
FSSI experience with seismic events
FSSI Hornby DC was one of more than 40 in Christchurch to suffer significant storage system damage during the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch on September 4, 2010.
FSSI Logistics Operations Manager Kris Lancaster explains that the new order for seismic-proof systems is to avoid a repeat of the 2010 experience. Following the earthquake, the company immediately began researching for storage systems that would stand up to another seismic event.
FSSI and Dematic
Having worked with Dematic on various real-time logistics and automated order fulfilment projects for several years, FSSI was aware of the sound reputation Dematic had gained for the structural integrity of its ColbyRACK storage systems.
According to Mr Lancaster, they worked closely with Dematic’s structural engineering team headed by Dr Murray Clarke to come up with a new storage system layout that optimised the available footprint and airspace within their ambient DC.
The new ColbyRACK system was designed, manufactured, shipped and installed at the Hornby DC in just over three months.
Following the installation of the ColbyRACK, the Hornby DC continued to experience many aftershocks from the September 4, 2010 earthquake; however, the storage system’s first real test came when another major seismic event rocked Christchurch on February 22, 2011. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake caused even more significant damage to the city than the September 4, 2010 earthquake, resulting in the death of 185 people and an estimated 15 billion NZ dollars of damage to properties.
When the February 22, 2011 earthquake struck at 12.51 pm, the Hornby DC was in full swing, with many of FSSI people on the warehouse floor at the time. Despite this seismic event causing much more damage across the city, the new ColbyRACK stood up to the earthquake.
Not a single pallet was lost during the earthquake and a subsequent inspection by a structural engineer prior to FSSI people re-entering the DC confirmed the ColbyRACK system didn’t suffer a single component failure.
When it came time to look at storage systems for their new Greenfield DC, there was never any hesitation in selecting Dematic to fit-out the warehouse with high-rise ColbyRACK systems.
Multi-level order picking module
In addition to supplying the Greenfield DC’s new storage systems, Dematic is also assisting FSSI with the implementation of a two-level split-case picking module incorporating integrated conveyors and voice-directed picking.
Controlled by Dematic’s PickDIRECTOR order fulfilment software, order totes will travel through the pick module by conveyor, diverting only into zones where picks are required. Operators equipped with voice computers will pick singles and inners from thousands of longspan shelving locations into the order totes, which will then be conveyed to despatch where a 10-lane Dematic conveyor sorting system will automatically sort them for despatch, with the reusable totes doubling as the shipping container for orders.