Hallmark play their cards right

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Hallmark UK is the home of the International Division of Hallmark Cards, the world renowned greeting card company.  Hallmark is a leading greeting card brand in the UK market, employing in excess of 3500 people.  Hallmark has a complex distribution channel incorporating sales to individual card shops, multiple retailers and grocery stores across a number of different product formats.

With over 20,000 product lines available in any one year and a continual programme of range development, this presents a major challenge to the warehouse & logistics team at Hallmark to provide an industry-leading solution demanded by their customers. With Hallmark undergoing restructuring of its manufacturing facilities at its Dawson lane site in Bradford, the opportunity arose to introduce a state of the art distribution facility into the existing building.

SAVOYE, a leading European supplier of warehouse solutions and systems, were called in to develop the whole operation from Goods-In to Despatch in order to improve the order picking and fulfilment process.  As a result SAVOYE was asked to provide a turnkey solution, designing and supplying the entire warehouse including the order fulfilment system hardware and software and acting as principle contractor for the building fit out.

Richard Campbell, Group Operations Director stated "Our number one objective was to develop a long term, mutually beneficial and open partnership with best-in-class providers.  With Savoye we feel we have achieved this and are now starting to see all the hard work put in by the team come to life and I am confident the total system will go fully live in early July as planned".

With the requirement to fulfil 250,000 order lines per day from a product range of over 20000 SKU's, the efficiency of the logistics operation and optimisation of the picking teams is of paramount importance.  At its peak the solution will be capable of processing the entire days work load in a single shift operation,

The complex process jointly developed by SAVOYE and Hallmark enables the batch picking of slow moving items to increase the picking intensity.  Once the batch is complete it is collated in an automated tote store for sortation into the despatch cartons, and then released onto the conveyor system for the remaining zone picking operation.  The net result is a system capable of providing manual pick rates in excess of 500 lines / man per hr.

In addition to the large number of items to be picked per day there are many rules that govern the content of each despatch carton and release of the orders.   Different retailers, merchandisers and end users operate a wide variety of store layouts and so the ability to deliver items in a store friendly sequence requires complex planning and control.

SAVOYE's turnkey solution includes a carton erector, conveyor transport system, pick to light, a Commissioner tote buffer store, RF picking devices, weigh scales and the award winning Jivaro automated packing machine.  The final dispatch documentation showing exactly what has been picked into each carton will be automatically printed and inserted into every despatch carton prior to lidding at a rate of up to 25 cartons per minute.  The Jivaro then cuts the carton down to the fill height and automatically applies a lid.  In addition to all the hardware from SAVOYE the entire system is controlled using Savoye's LM7 Warehouse Management Software.

LM7 is a Warehouse Management Software that focuses on detailed order picking, it has powerful algorithms for the execution of order picking whilst remaining sensitive to the operational constraints of the warehouse. The standard software is readily configured to each application using parameters that prevent destabilising the product. The ability to configure LM7 to execute the process as defined by Hallmark & SAVOYE results in a completely integrated solution that has been designed around optimising the picking performance.

One of the key strengths of LM7 is to simulate and "pre-cube" the workload prior to release to enable the warehouse manager to plan the labour resource requirements and ensure that the order picking works smoothly as a fully integrated system, as opposed to a series of sequential operations.

Having a single control architecture where the "all seeing" WMS controls every detail of the warehouse, from bulk receiving to the finest details of the order picking and despatch, it is possible to ensure that no factors are overlooked by the WMS in managing the process and making critical decisions, such as the sequencing of tasks.  This truly integrated structure is essential when the warehouse is required to meet the very high service levels required by the business.

As Tracey Holden, Head of Warehousing and Distribution, said "this major investment in new technology will provide us with increased stock accuracy and full product traceability from goods in to despatch".


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