State-of-the-art STRATOS warehouse planning and simulation software developed by Linde has helped multi-channel retail powerhouse Winning Group position itself for further success, based on a new national distribution centre in Sydney, built around world best practice principles. That goal has been achieved, together with a 50 per cent productivity boost, made possible by textbook planning and implementation processes suggested by Linde’s STRATOS solution.
This was a project two years in the planning. We were looking for a solution which would use logistics as a growth enabler, not a growth restriction.
Winning Group Chief Logistics Officer, Alan Lewis, compiled comprehensive data relating to throughputs and whitegoods types, sizes and weights to guide the planning and understand how the new warehouse could look, how that layout would work and what types of material handling equipment were required. Linde’s STRATOS software program and simulations allowed Winning to see a virtual “day in the life” of the proposed facility. It gave clear answers to specific questions, presented in an easily understood manner for decision makers from non-logistics backgrounds. Alan Lewis rated the process as “absolutely excellent”, noting that “Linde also used its global experience as well as its Australian resources to come up with a solution for us.”
STRATOS fine-tunes unique concept
Winning Group had initially developed a concept for a distribution centre unlike any previously operated in Australia – a 13,000 square metre facility with very narrow aisle (VNA) configuration, served by turret trucks fitted with carton clamps and 11.5 metre reach. Linde was able to provide a conceptual layout as the basis for further discussions just three days after gaining access to the Winning Group data. “This was a project two years in the planning,” Alan Lewis said. “We were looking for a solution which would use logistics as a growth enabler, not a growth restriction. The site we are in now is designed not just for this year, but also for our projected needs in five years’ time. That’s reflected in how we specified the equipment. It is very different in what we had in the previous warehouse.
A design for now and the future
“Linde’s STRATOS response proposed how many new machines we would need and what that would cost as well as what we could achieve with it. That tool was very useful in helping us to understand what our needs would be in year one, right through to year five. “We had already had some exposure to Linde on a smaller scale with some equipment in our old warehouse. They had proven themselves with their support of more traditional equipment, so we could see their commitment from the outset.
“When we moved to the short-list stage of the tender process we went to some reference sites so that we could understand what the equipment offerings were. Some of our staff went to the reference sites and operated the equipment so that we could understand the pros and cons of each. “The staff were a very key part of the decision and very engaged. They had to be because not only were we changing the site, we were changing the warehouse management system and we were also changing the material handling equipment they were using.”
Linde range the ideal match for new DC
Using VNA turret trucks with carton clamps to take advantage of the height of a tall building to store a large SKU profile in a significantly smaller footprint than would otherwise be the case had not been done in Australia. After evaluating tenders from alternative suppliers Winning Group took delivery of Linde equipment on long term lease, including six E20-335 battery electric counterbalance forklift trucks with carton clamps, a R16HD – 1120 reach truck and two K Series turret trucks with carton clamps. The trucks are fitted with the Linde Power Solutions Fast Charge Battery System, allowing them to cope with increased usage should the new DC move to a three-shift operation in peak times.
The relationship with Linde has been a success, not just because of the STRATOS software, but because from the outset they took the time to fully understand who we were, how we operate and where we wanted to progress in the future.
“Linde also helped us in the transition to the new site,” Alan Lewis said. “They delivered some of the specialist narrow aisle equipment early, so that operators could be training on it for half a shift a day for three or four days at the new site. We had a very successful ’go live’ in August, a record November and we are absolutely where Linde and ourselves predicted in terms of throughput and equipment utilisation. The very narrow aisle trucks are delivering exactly the number of units per hour which Linde predicted. “The local call-out engineers from Linde who came to service or deal with the inevitable hitches on a new site were excellent. We have a very good ongoing relationship with them.
See the Linde K Series 5231 Man-up Electric Turret Truck at work in narrow aisle applications in the video below: