Designed by Yakka in conjunction with Dematic and NZ-based Darroch Consulting, the new Distribution Centre, which was completed from concept to commissioning in less than 12 months, features the most widespread application of Voice-Directed Computing software in Australia to date, and a conveyor system that helps assemble orders quickly and accurately by only sending orders to the areas where goods are required.
“The facility commenced operations on July 26, 2004 and we already achieving excellent productivity and accuracy,” said Yakka’s Associate Director – Operations, Bergin.
“Our people like using the new system. They have embraced the new technologies and processes with great enthusiasm and we expect performance to continue to improve as we gain more experience in the use of these new technologies.”
Commenting on Yakka’s decision to employ Voice Directed Computing throughout their new distribution operation, Bergin said: “The biggest change to the way we handle orders now is the introduction of voice-directed order picking.
“For the first couple of weeks, we checked 100% of orders. Amazingly, all we found during this time was two errors, so we are now checking less than 30% of orders and, if the results continue to be as accurate as they have, we’ll very quickly be able to reduce quality checks to random orders only.”
Yakka were convinced Voice Directed Computing was the ideal fit for their business when Dematic took members of the company’s logistics team to visit the Australian Pharmaceutical Industries installation in Sydney, said Bergin.
“The nature of our garments is such that they are much easier to pick with two hands than one, and one of the real benefits with voice picking is that it leaves both the eyes and hands free to do their work.
“Our people have all found making the transition from RF-directed operations to voice to be very straightforward,” he said.
Order processing takes place in a number of operating zones within the DC, with voice picking being used for all order picking in the following areas:
- High-rise slow moving split-case SKUs
- Low-rise shelving with medium moving split-case SKUs
- Carton live storage for fast moving split-case SKUs
- A hanging garment storage area
RF technology is used for full case picking from bulk/reserve storage. To simplify handling methodologies Yakka have standardised on a single footprint shipper carton in two depths, with the order management system automatically determining, which of the two cartons, or number of cartons, are required for any order.
Single and small multi-pick orders are picked directly into a courier bag, transported through the conveyor system on a captive tote.
Orders are uploaded from Yakka’s host computer system, WIMS, to Dematic PickDIRECTOR and released as required. To minimise travel time between picks, PickDIRECTOR enables cluster picking of up to eight orders at time for the slow and medium velocity SKUs.
Up to eight orders can be assembled concurrently on a specially designed cage on the Stockpickers, which service the slow moving split-case SKU area, while up to six orders can be cluster picked on a simple manual trolley in the medium moving SKU area.
“We decided to ramp the distribution system up slowly to ensure there were no major glitches when the facility came online properly in the middle of October,” said Bergin.
“Our IT people and Dematic have done an amazing job in such a short space of time. Of course, we’ve experienced a few little glitches, but that is all they have been. We’ve basically not had any major operational issues since we started.”