Tommy Hilfiger improves productivity with new Vanderlande order consolidation system

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The Tommy Hilfiger Group, founded in New York, USA in 1985, is one of the world's leading apparel and retail companies. The company has expanded its reach worldwide through a select global distribution network for its core brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Hilfiger Denim and Hilfiger Sport.

The international expansion included the take-over of an automated warehouse/distribution centre in Venlo, the Netherlands in the year 2006. The facility was brand new. Its owner had changed plans and decided to sell it shortly after it went into operation. Hilfiger bought it and adapted the facility to its purposes. Since Vanderlande had originally built the automated material handling system operating in the facility, Hilfiger asked Vanderlande to implement its VISION Warehouse Control System, interfaced with Hilfiger's SAP ERP system. This was the start of the company's partnership with Vanderlande. Over time, the company's business has grown steadily, and customers' rising demands have presented new challenges. New collections must be in the stores at exactly the right time once they are launched. This must be done in such a way that the stores are not preoccupied with the handling of all the new items, instead of serving customers. In 2009 Hilfiger and Vanderlande designed a system expansion, that will significantly improve service level to the stores and will make sure the right products arrive in the stores at exactly the right time. The expansion has just gone into operation, in time for Hilfiger's Christmas peak season and Spring 2011 delivery season.

Increased operator productivity by 40%
In the new warehouse logistics process, three additional miniload AS/RS and one additional consolidation workstation will be integrated into the consolidation system. Storage capacity is doubled to 13,000 locations. Picked order cartons are transported from de-palletising workstations and stored directly into the QUICKSTORE miniload AS/RS. Because the new AS/RS and conveyor system is able to handle cartons, there is no need to put a tray under the cartons anymore. Main advantages are higher storage density in the miniload AS/RS system and a simplified and more ergonomic operator process. Estimations are that it will lead to an operator productivity increase of 40% in the consolidation area. The order consolidation system is especially beneficial in preparation for peak seasons. Products can be picked well in advance and placed in the order consolidation system. When the order needs to be delivered, it can be retrieved from the buffer automatically and delivered to the stores at exactly the right time.
Future proof system
Vanderlande will also upgrade the system's PLC from S5 to S7 level. This will bring the system to the highest industry standard. Spare parts availability will be assured for years to come, and the risk of operational problems will be significantly lower.

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