A. S. Watson Health & Beauty Benelux, which is active in the health and cosmetics sector, has one of the most modern distribution centres in the world. Up to four million packages can be processed here every week.
The initial situation was clear. The focus was on setting up the new racking system for higher warehouse volumes and also optimising fire protection. Easily flammable products such as serviettes and handkerchiefs placed stringent demands on safety provisions. The block storage method used beforehand meant that the large number of cumbersome goods would be insufficiently reached with extinguishing water in case of fire. In addition, the task involved ensuring enough rack spaces for all goods as well as delivering the order picking workstations with enough products within an area of 600 square metres.
Efficiency of the entire material flow was optimised by a solution which appeared unconventional at first glance, with overall capacity increasing considerably as a result. Although drive-through and drive-in racking are frequently used in compact storage systems, we elected to use a suitable racking system consisting of channel racking with UPC and drive-through racking sections. Specifically, this meant: We have set up a warehouse system with five levels and 1,944 pallet positions in an area of 600 square metres. The upper four levels consist of 36 channel racks for Under Pallet Carriers (UPC). Every channel rack has capacity for twelve pallets with clearance of 75 millimetres on both sides, which amongst other things, ensures ideal water supply in emergency situations. The lower rack level consists of a picking tunnel that is bordered on both sides by a total of 72 drive-through racking sections. The pallets move from there independently to the removal point and therefore reduce the picking level for the order pickers. This means less physical load and optimal accessibility of the goods. In addition, the operator can control the UPC with a terminal during motion so that waiting times are prevented.
“In order to increase goods volume on an annual basis, it was time to find a new solution that was appropriate for the special demands we had”, says Steven Beerens, project manager of supply chain development. “We are very pleased with the results that have been achieved. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first pallet shuttle system operated by a narrow-aisle truck in this country,” says Beerens.