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E-commerce retailer uses unique warehouse system to double its facility capacity

Through the cube-based, goods-to-person system, the retailer significantly increased its ergonomics and order accuracy.

As a Missouri-based specialty apparel retailer’s sales continued to rise, it realized that more space was necessary for on-site inventory—as quickly as possible. In preparation for an imminent expansion or relocation, company executives began preliminary discussions with contractors to build a second warehouse.

While searching for shipping sortation equipment, the e-commerce retailer decided to review the entire project with a systems integrator and soon discovered an entirely different sortation option: a high density, goods-to-person warehouse system.

The unique, cube-based system is comprised of four main components—a structural grid, delivery robots, storage bins and an operator port. Products are stored in stacked bins within a dense aluminum grid. Whenever they’re needed to fill an order, the system software and controls alert a robot to find the bin that contains the products.

If the bin is buried beneath other bins, a robot stages the extra bins on top of the grid until it retrieves the desired bin. It then takes that bin to the edge of the grid and delivers it to the operator filling the order. As the bin is delivered, another robot cleans up the staged bins on top of the grid by returning them to their original positions.

As this process continues, the system self-profiles, meaning the bins with faster-moving products begin to move toward the top of the system, while bins with slower-moving products transition to the bottom.

By pairing the goods-to-person system with warehouse control software, as well as put-to-light devices at each operator pick station, the e-tailer significantly increased its order accuracy and ergonomics.

In addition, the retailer also avoided a costly expansion, as it doubled the capacity of its current facility. For every one million units of static racking storage, the company gained 2.25 million units of storage through the system.

Overall, the decision to implement the goods-to-person system has produced great results. Throughputs are now exceeding expectations, and the e-tailer has already set a record for total units shipped from the facility in a single day.

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