Salomon Automation GmbH

SSI Schaefer develops an innovative picking solution for international fashion giant Desigual – it’s not the same!

system layout

For WAMAS logistics software every customer is different!

"We manage to deliver 100.000 pieces of clothing a day! Thanks to our automated warehouse we can store 3.000.000 pieces and process 5.000 orders at the same time. Our efficient delivery service runs twenty-four seven. Everything is within our reach and we make sure that it is also for our customers. Moreover, the ICIL foundation has honoured us with the award for excellence in logistics in 2009" Desigual about its outstanding logistics performance.

The decision to establish a partnership with logistics expert SSI Schaefer opened up new and unexpected possibilities. In the end, it was the general contractor's innovative solutions concept that brought the ultimate success.

At the age of 20, the Swiss Thomas Meyer, was dreaming of a future, where people could dress differently, wearing pieces of clothing which evoke positive emotions and are affordable for most people. That's how Desigual came into being in 1984. The business is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain and employs 1.500 people from 25 different nations. Every year, 10 million pieces of clothing are sold in more than 5.000 stores worldwide. The distribution is based on three different business models (multibrand stores, Desigual stores, "shop in shop" stores). Desigual stores can be found worldwide - from Barcelona to New York and Tokio to Singapore - providing an exceptional range of creative experiences to non-conformists and more than 1.000 designs per season.

A major challenge in terms of distribution
When it comes to the fashion industry, the picking requirements are extremely challenging. All sizes of an article in the same colour must be kept together in the dispatch box in order to simplify the goods-in control at the store. At the same time, also the orders and the corresponding delivery notes are structured adequately. Moreover, the various ranges (women, men, and children) may not be mixed within the boxes. All these criteria are based on the goal of keeping the sales staff expenditure in the store as low as possible. On top of that the logistical processes in the fashion industry are based on two essential business processes.

"Initials & Repeats"
The world of fashion offers us two collections per year - spring/summer and autumn/winter. These two assortments (also so-called "initials") refer to the initial stockings of stores for the respective seasonal start. Already months before the delivery, the collections are strictly allocated and scheduled. The sales-specific allocation is already carried out before the production. Initials are characterised by their high total volume. However, the delivery of the articles from the production to the distribution centre is carried out step by step, taking up to several weeks. This means that the range is completely accepted in the warehouse only shortly before the delivery date of the collection. In order to be still able to economically process the delivery volume generated by the collection-specific orders and to deliver the orders in a timely and complete manner, it is necessary to commence with the processing (picking) of the orders already during the storage of the first collection-specific articles. The logistical requirement for these types of orders lies in the picking since it has to be started at a time, when not all articles are available in the warehouse to complete the orders. As a matter of fact, the orders can only be completed once the last goods of the collection have arrived at the warehouse.

In addition to the collections, there is a number of recurring replenishment orders, so called „repeats", which are delivered in order to restock the sold goods in the stores. The repeats require minimum cycle times and are characterized by a smaller delivery volume per order.

Therefore, the ideal picking process for Desigual consists in an efficient combination of both business processes. Conventional systems usually are very labour-intensive and are subject to a number of limitations, which again lead to a rise in logistics costs.

In order to eliminate these disadvantages, SSI Schaefer has developed a picking method, which is tailored to the various processes in the fashion industry, and can therefore keep up with Desigual's enormous pace of expansion.

Innovative sorter/shaft combination
The key difference to the other systems on the market lies in the automated design of the sorter chutes combined with a split tray sorter as well as a dynamic management. The chutes function as "buffer" and are installed directly underneath the sorter. The customer boxes are prepared dynamically by WAMAS, underneath the shafts, in the correct sequence for the emptying. Due to this arrangement it can be achieved that a x-times higher number of customer orders is completed as sorter chutes and can therefore be managed simultaneously within a batch. Desigual manages 4.000 orders at exactly 54 physical chutes. In other words, the "sorter/shaft" combination works as a synchronisation buffer between picking and order boxes.

At two ergonomic picking locations, around 3.600 pieces of clothing are picked per hour and work station from the already opened source boxes to the sorter in-feed belt. The picking locations are designed in such a way that they are suitable for pieces from the summer as well as winter collection. A so called automated in-feed belt is used as "breathable" buffer between picker and sorter, whereby the employees are not hindered in their work. The conveying system was realised by SSI Schafer Peem, also a member of the Schaefer family. The sorter distributes the goods among the 54 intermediate shafts in two well-assorted piles, which are then automatically transported and precisely dropped in the respective customer box. Subsequently the (partially) semi-filled boxes are conveyed to the highly dynamic, 3-aisle intermediate buffer warehouse with 5.400 storage locations. The warehouse was set up by Fritz Schäfer GmbH and adjusted to the height of opened split cases. The target and source boxes with a total number of 3 million individual articles are ideally managed by the WAMAS logistics software in the integrated 6 aisle tray warehouse with 90.000 storage locations.

Desigual strongly benefits from the transition to an automated sorter picking including the following advantages:

- Elimination of batch downtimes by decoupling the picking process from the order structure.
- Reduction of required source box dynamics to the absolute minimum at the picking locations (one article is processed only once for the total number of orders scheduled at the picking location).
- Maximization of the picked quantity per article in one picking process, which again results in a maximum picking performance of the employees.
- Full utilisation of picking stations - despite partially enormous
A-B-C-structure of articles - thanks to the creation of article groups and an automated preparation in an ideal sequence.

That's how SSI Schaefer created a highly efficient picking solution on limited space, making sure that people all over the globe can enjoy an individual world of fashion, in each size, colour and store. A logistics solution which was honoured with two prestigious awards by the "ICIL Foundation" and the "CELCentro Logístico Espanol“.

Friesach (Graz), October 2010