Friday, July 28, 2017

Modern Warehouse Management System and Materials Handling Plan Suits Food Group

KP Goes Nuts for Narrow Aisle Fork Lift Trucks
Shipping News Feature
UK – There will be hardly a consumer in the country who is not familiar with KP Snacks as a brand, it manufactures and distributes such iconic snack names as McCoy's, Phileas Fogg, Hula Hoops, and of course, KP Nuts and employs some 8,000 staff at 30 locations throughout the UK and Europe. Due to the consistently high demand for its products, the company recently undertook a major upgrade of the intralogistics processes at its Ashby-de-la-Zouche warehouse that has resulted in a significant increase in the store's pallet volume which prompted a search for the most efficient storage and materials handling systems.

Quite simply the warehouse, which is located on the same site as a major KP production facility, no longer offered the capacity required to handle the growing flow of stock that left the adjacent factory. A number of options, including upping sticks and moving to a bigger unit, were considered before KP settled on a solution designed and delivered by Flexi Warehouse Systems, the Systems Division of Narrow Aisle Ltd and specialists in optimising storage space using fork lift trucks which can operate in the most confined racked areas.

The original layout of the store featured standard pallet racking, which was worked by a combination of traditional counterbalanced forklifts and reach trucks. However, this model was no longer space efficient and didn’t allow KP to achieve the throughput speeds it was looking for. Flexi recommended narrowing the aisles of the warehouse’s storage cube and replacing the pallet racking with an integrated two-deep storage system served by a fleet of Flexi StorMAX truck units.

The operation is now controlled by a specially developed warehouse management system (WMS) to optimise First in Last out (FILO) and maximise pallet storage efficiency. This solution allowed 50% per cent more pallet locations to be achieved when designing a storage system in a warehouse with the same dimensions as a system served by conventional reach trucks. At the same time the number of pallet movements per truck increased by 15%, a real boost in efficiency.

Put simply, the two-deep system supplied allows KP to handle two pallets from the same side of each very narrow aisle - which effectively doubles the capacity of each run of racking within the store. As well as supplying the hardware Flexi also advised KP on how to adapt KP’s WMS software to optimise every pallet of product entering the warehouse so it can be tracked, located and picked in the most efficient ‘FILO’ sequence.

Whilst the reprogrammed WMS organises the sequence in which the pallets are put away, essential to a business handling food items with a shelf life and thus avoiding double handling of similar lines by ensuring the earliest dates are extracted first, the Flexi StorMAX trucks utilise a hi-definition operator CCTV camera system with ultra-clear images to ensure safe working at height and a pallet throughput rate of 35 per hour for each truck.

The new combination means that a fleet of five Flexi StorMAX trucks is all that is required to maintain KP’s highly effective put-away and picking operation and, to ensure round-the-clock truck ‘up time,’ Flexi supplied a bespoke battery management system which reduces charger energy consumption by over 40% and provides data to the operator identifying the next fully charged battery available for cassette change. Battery changing is carried out by the operator with a dedicated transfer truck in only 3 minutes.

The existing warehouse was converted ‘as is’ with the original floor and other costly infrastructure used, a new modern LED low-energy lighting system was installed at very low cost, as the StorMAX system has half the number of operating aisles as a conventional reach truck warehouse. John Maguire, commercial director of Narrow Aisle Ltd, commented that the company’s ability to offer a complete service from design through to supply and installation of all storage equipment had produced savings in double quick time, and added:

“The Flexi StorMAX system has allowed KP Snacks to maximise the capacity and efficiency of its existing adjacent to production storage facility. Flexi Warehouse Systems was able to work with KP Snacks to re-design and re-configure its existing intralogistics infrastructure and, by using new technology and handling techniques, we have created a more cost effective operation with a very attractive pay-back period, and without the huge additional double handling and transport costs involved in an off-site distribution centre.”