This beer and spirits distributor is one of the largest in the country, delivering hundreds of millions of cases to stores throughout the United States each year. The company manages hundreds of SKUs in their 200,000+ square foot distribution center.
An expanding range of SKUs driven by the growing demand for craft beers and specialty beverages such as alcoholic seltzers posed a significant challenge for this beer and spirits distributor. While the expansion of their product range has fueled business growth, it has also created a longer tail of inventory and challenges around the storage and fulfillment of these slower-moving products. This growth necessitated an increase in warehouse storage capacity, calling for a more space-efficient solution to accommodate future expansion.
Their manual picking processes required large groups of employees to exert physical effort while handling heavy, individual cases. This process also involved navigating around forklifts, which introduced safety hazards. Additionally, labor shortages compounded the problem, making it especially difficult to ensure an adequate workforce during peak seasons.
All these factors contributed to inefficient storage and retrieval processes, hindering the potential for future growth. To address these challenges, the company recognized the need for an advanced automated system to streamline operations, alleviate the burden on employees, and enhance efficiency throughout the entire inventory storage and retrieval process.
1. Increased Productivity
- Automatic pick-to-order for cases stored on trays, along with delivery in the appropriate sequence to a “top off” station for shipment
- Access to all stored SKUs within two minutes, regardless of location within the system
- Productivity increased by 5X with four stations capable of processing up to 900 cases per hour
2. Enhanced Labor Efficiency
- Robots store inventory into racks and deliver ordered goods to picking stations within an enclosed system, alleviating safety risks
- Reduced reliance on manual labor and redirected their efforts toward higher-value tasks, such as quality control