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Boots The Chemists, the UK's leading health and beauty retailer, is to re-organise its UK-wide supply chain network to respond more efficiently to the fast changing UK retail market. The core of the future logistics structure will be the Store Service Centre (SSC), Boots' distribution facility in Nottingham (UK), which will replace 17 regional warehouses. Witron Logistik + Informatik GmbH, Germany, was awarded the contract to realise the SSC. Boots has opted for Witron's "Dynamic Picking System" (DPS) for small parts and "Car Picking System" (CPS) for cases.
These systems will be used for centralised distribution to around 1,400 Boots The Chemists stores all over Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Concentration of the warehousing and picking processes at one site and the correct level of automation of the SSC are key advantages of the new supply chain network. The Witron systems solution was selected particularly for the high expected cost-efficiency of the new SSC to be expected and the introduction of store friendly deliveries. Witron also impressed decision makers with its industry know-how and the proven DPS and CPS technologies. The new systems will be integrated into existing buildings at the Nottingham site.
One of the biggest challenges in this project is the seamless replacement of the current logistics and material flow systems during ongoing operation. Witron UK Manager Karl Hgen had this to say about the intensive design phase: "From the beginning, Witron as an experienced expert in design and realisation was asked to develop an optimum integration concept jointly with Boots that will ensure uninterrupted delivery capabilities during retrofitting".
With the DPS and CPS solutions, warehousing and picking will be merged to form one total system. The Bavarian systems integrator will be the general contractor, bearing overall project responsibility during all phases of the project.
A total of approximately 200,000 tote storing positions, nearly 39,000 pallet storing positions and 66 stacker cranes will be installed for the automatic small parts and pallet high bay warehouses, within the picking areas and for the order consolidation buffer. The phased implementation process will span three years. Apart from reduced capital tie-up and lower stocks, Boots anticipates much higher productivity from the SSC once this large-scale project is completed.