FKI Logistex introduces automated replenishment system

January 052007
FKI Logistex introduces automated replenishment system
Picking system uses automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) to offer continuous replenishment, dynamic pick faces, and consolidated trash removal

(St. Louis, Missouri, USA: January 5, 2007) FKI Logistex launches its new automated replenishment system for less-than-full-case picking, ideal for retail distribution and manufacturing. The new system uses FKI Logistex mini-load cranes to reduce the high manual labor cost of split-case picking by providing continuous, automated, demand-based replenishment to increase order fulfillment speed and accuracy.

"Manually replenishing SKUs for less-than-full case picking is expensive and time-consuming for large retail and manufacturing operations," says Ken Matson, executive vice president, FKI Logistex North America. "The FKI Logistex automated replenishment system employs the efficiency of mini-load cranes to ensure that if inventory is in the building, it is available as soon as it needs to be picked."

By ensuring that pick faces are continuously restocked, the FKI Logistex system eliminates replenishment downtime that frequently occurs in manual systems. The use of dynamic slotting logic in the FKI Logistex system minimizes the number of flow lanes required to service orders. Fewer flow lanes mean lower costs and shorter pick paths for increased pick rates.

The ability of the mini-load crane to automatically reconfigure pick faces on-demand as SKUs change makes the system ideal for handling short-run and seasonal products and for large retail DCs that have more SKUs than pick faces. All SKUs — high-velocity and low-velocity items — are handled with the same system and replenished and stored automatically.

How it Works
When pallets are delivered in a typical FKI Logistex automated replenishment system, the trash and dunnage is removed and the product is immediately sorted and placed directly into plastic totes. A tote-based system eliminates the buildup of trash through the picking process and provides consistency when compared with systems that transport SKUs in their original boxes, which can vary in size. A conveyor routes the totes to the rack system, where mini-load cranes move the totes to static rack locations for storage as general inventory.

At the beginning of each wave, the FKI Logistex control system reassigns pick faces based on immediate demand to support customer orders or replenish store inventory. The mini-load crane automatically retrieves totes from the rack and fills up the necessary slots. The logic built into the system maintains a balance of static locations — fast-moving SKUs that can be changed to follow seasonality — and dynamic locations, which can be reassigned wave after wave to present SKUs needed for the next round of orders.

A combination of FKI Logistex EASYpick GoKart, pick-to-light, and pick-to-voice order fulfillment systems are used for picking totes, which are placed on a takeaway conveyor for routing to shipping and sortation. Empty totes are placed back on the same conveyer and are diverted downstream for automatic stacking, staging, and routing to tote filling for new SKUs.

The Versatile FKI Logistex Mini-Load Crane
The FKI Logistex mini-load crane is a rail-running crane designed for automatic storage of non-palletized loads such as cartons, trays and totes at elevations up to 71 feet (21.7 meters). With up to 99.99 percent inventory accuracy achievable, the mini-load crane is used for automated storage and retrieval, automatic flow lane replenishment for order picking systems, load buffering between production cells, multi-elevation and multi-position load delivery, and fully dynamic load sortation and staging.

The top-guidance, all-electric mini-load crane offers curved-rail aisle changes and features direct AC-powered hoist and traction, a steel-cable-reinforced, toothed-belt hoist system, laser positioning, PLC control, and IR and RF communication. Available in single- or double-mast configurations with multiple load-handling devices, the crane can handle items up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms).

A Complete Order Replenishment System
The automated replenishment system integrates a wide range of FKI Logistex technologies, including pick-to-light, EASYpick GoKart, RF devices, industry-leading Accuzone 24-volt conveyors, and the Warehouse Optimizer warehouse control system (WCS). A new FKI Logistex automated fulfillment system can be implemented in under a year and provides a high ROI by helping companies reduce square-footage expansion or greenfield construction costs.

FKI Logistex automated replenishment capabilities featuring a fully operational mini-load crane will be on display at the FKI Logistex ProMat 2007 booth (1203/1503) in an integrated equipment loop showcasing a number of FKI Logistex products and technologies. Also featured are the company's next-generation sorters — the LS-4000CB cross-belt and the LS-4000E tilt-tray — as well as the new UniSort MXT software module — a patent-pending sortation subsystem that dramatically increases sorter throughput. ProMat 2007 takes place January 8-11 in Chicago at McCormick Place.

About FKI Logistex
FKI Logistex is a leading global provider of automated material handling solutions, supplying its customers with an integrated set of leading-edge technologies in high-speed sortation, conveyor systems, palletizing, paperless pick products, AS/RS, controls, order fulfillment systems, RFID implementation, EDS integration, baggage handling systems, warehouse control systems, and total material handling automation.

FKI Logistex provides material handling solutions for airports, postal facilities, parcel distribution, manufacturing operations, library automation, and for warehouse and distribution facilities. With projects that include many of the world's largest and most advanced material handling operations, FKI Logistex has manufacturing, engineering and support facilities around the world.
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, January 2007

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