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New HQ delivers improved supply chain performance for Blackmores

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Australian natural health supplements supplier, Blackmores, has consolidated the company’s head office, manufacturing and distribution operations into its new Blackmores Campus at Warriewood in Sydney’s northern beaches.

The Blackmores Campus brings the company’s operations under one roof for the first time in over 15 years. Strong growth had made it necessary for Blackmores to split its manufacturing and distribution operations across a number of separate facilities.  Bringing these services together at the Warriewood site, together with technology enhancements, brings new efficiencies and cost savings to the business.

“Bringing our operations back under the one roof will not only provide direct supply chain savings in excess of $1 million per annum, it will also enable us to significantly streamline our supply chain and enhance productivity across the board,” said Blackmores Director of Operations, Liz Burrows.

“We have taken the opportunity to install an additional production line in the new manufacturing facility, giving the business a 20% increase in production capacity to support future growth, and Dematic has designed our new distribution centre (DC) as a flow-through facility.

“Raw materials feed through to production, and finished goods back through to storage and distribution. Materials handling is optimised at all stages, and the DC has been equipped with the latest generation of order picking technologies including smart conveyors, Voice Picking, RF and Pick-to-Light systems,” said Ms Burrows.

“We have also been able to rationalise our distribution IT systems with Dematic’s new PickDIRECTOR software,” she said.

In a world-first, Dematic has integrated Blackmores put-away and replenishment functions within PickDIRECTOR, which seamlessly interfaces with Blackmores’ host computer system, JD Edwards’ Enterprise One.

Blackmores Chief Technology Officer, Lee Richards, said: “A key driver when we planned the IT strategy for Blackmores Campus, was to identify and eliminate potential points of failure within our IT systems.

“The broad-ranging functionality of Dematic’s PickDIRECTOR order management and control software has enabled us to do so in the DC,” he said.

“With PickDIRECTOR providing the interface for all of our DC technologies, we were able to decommission a number of servers, systems and interfaces which has allowed us to simplify the DC’s IT systems architecture, enhancing operational reliability and reducing our IT systems management requirements.”

Over the past 70 years, Blackmores has become one of the most trusted brands in Australia. The company supports a customer base of more than 5000 health food stores, pharmacies, supermarkets and health practitioners throughout the country. It has also established strong export markets in the Australasian and SE Asian regions over the past 20 years.

Fundamental to this growth has been its commitment to good manufacturing practice and supply chain innovation.

Dematic’s Key Account Manager, Soeren Schauki, said: “Our integrated logistics solution gives Blackmores a set of tools with which it can handle, store, pick and despatch goods faster and more accurately now, and for many years to come.

“Our DC systems incorporate a lot of flexibility to ensure efficient materials handling, storage and order fulfilment, even if Blackmores distribution requirements were to change over time,” he said.

“We believed this was necessary because the company’s SKU (stock keeping unit) profile has changed considerably in recent years as a result of market growth and maturity.

“The trend towards larger pack sizes in high volume product categories such as fish oil capsules, together with strong growth in supermarket sales and export markets, means that Blackmores now processes a much higher volume of full case orders than it did just a few years ago,” explained Mr Schauki.

“That’s why our DC design provides a range of efficient strategies and technologies for handling increasing quantities of full case goods, including the introduction of Voice Picking,” he said.

Blackmores new DC provides storage for about 5000 pallets, housed in a combination of narrow aisle, double-deep and selective ColbyRACK up to nine metres high. The various storage systems are serviced by a mobile materials handling fleet including wire-guided Crown Turret Trucks, Stockpickers, Double-Deep Reach Trucks and Forklifts.

Separate storage areas are provided for raw materials, packaging, quality control and marketing goods. In addition, a storeroom housing product samples and promotional materials required by sales people has been provided external to the DC. This facility provides 24 hour access for salespeople to pick up any goods they require when visiting customers without having to enter the DC.

Blackmores typically processes up to 500 customer orders per day.

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