How to efficiently dispatch over million apparel items on a daily basis?
Dynamic company growth is a major challenge for its logistics muscle. LPP decided to opt for full process automation supported by the PSIwms warehouse management system. Here is how the PSIwms deployment worked at LPP.
Logistics is in fashion
New apparel collection more or less every 2 months, strong seasonality of sales and frequent price reductions – logistics-wise, these are just some of the many challenges in the fashion business. The keys to success are order lead times, accuracy, availability and reliability. An efficient IT system handling logistics processes is therefore the key driver of the company’s competitive edge. It is there to make sure that the right product is at the right location right on time.
LPP, owner of clothing brands such as RESERVED, Cropp, House, MOHITO or SiNSAY, steps up its sales and expands its network to new markets year after year. It would be absolutely impossible to deliver products to more than 1,700 brand stores in more than 20 countries in line with the company’s rules of operation without robust logistics processes in terms of product storage, sorting and distribution.
Well-thought-out investments in warehouse automation and IT systems
LPP attaches great weight to its strong logistics muscle. The partnership between LPP and PSI dates back to 2007 (the contract was signed on November 29th 2007). W 2007 , LPP’s management decided to build a new logistics centre, and selection of an optimum warehouse management system was the investment’s key parameter. PSIwms was chosen based on the system’s maturity and PSI’s successful track record. End-to-end services offered by PSI were another decisive factor. Faced with the challenges of dynamic business growth, in 2013 LPP decided to extend its warehouse and automate all warehousing processes, including the addition of two new sorters and one mini load unit. LPP’s Distribution Centre located in Pruszcz Gdański currently covers around 66 thousand square meters (the area is big enough to house 10.5 football pitches plus one additional penalty area) and includes several kilometres of automatic conveyors, three sorters, several automatic carton handling units, as well as many scanners and automatic weighing systems. The high-bay automated warehouse is about 18 meters high (matching more or less a 6-storey residential building), includes countless racks and shelves, and employs 500 people. Being one of the largest warehouses in Central and Eastern Europe, it dispatches up to 1,500,000 items of clothing and accessories to more than 1,700 brand stores in more than 20 countries on a daily basis.
Main challenge: how to integrate different automatic control systems
PSIwms is an advanced warehouse management system tailored to the Client’s individual needs. One of the main challenges in project deployment was to seamlessly integrate old conveyor systems (moved from other warehouses) with new conveyors and sorters, with each component coming from a different supplier, making it even more difficult to e.g. communicate messages between the WMS and automatic control systems. PSI successfully integrated the new solution with existing advanced warehouse automatic control systems, which included conveyors, a cross-belt sorter (400 offloads / 8 induction stations), and a stacker crane (the so-called mini-load) for 370,000 storage locations (cartons). The warehouse also features automatic wrappers, labellers and a dispatching sorter.
State-of-the-art logistics controlled by PSIwms
At LPP’s Distribution Centre, PSIwms specifies optimum storage locations, goods positioning strategies, order picking paths, transport routes, loading of trucks, and the load on sorters. The system handles several hundred thousand SKUs. After extension, the maximum capacity of LPP’s Distribution Centre exceeds 1,500,000 apparel items per day.
The task of PSIwms is to:
- Handle various methods of goods receipt and release and a number of order picking strategies, including the release of goods without storage (cross-dock),
- Group goods by specific features for automatic planning of handling processes (e.g. in sorters),
- Plan warehouse operations against sales plans.
How PSIwms supports logistics processes at LPP’s Distribution Centre
Every day, LPP introduces several new apparel models to its sales network. The sales data is collected from brand stores on a daily basis. Orders for stock replenishment are generated automatically by the ERP system and sent over to PSIwms, which initiates the order picking cycle. Planned and additional orders are put into separate cartons. PSIwms generates group orders, which resemble in-house goods releases. Orders for goods are generated automatically by the ERP system and sent to the WMS, which controls order-related warehouse processes. Full pallets are picked up from the high-bay warehouse.
PSIwms manages product flows across the entire distribution centre. On receipt of goods, cartons are scanned, weighed, measures, and marked with an additional internal flow label. The process is based on carton flow – goods are both received and released in cardboard boxes. Goods are received usually in cartons kept in containers. Internal flows are based either on full cartons (no sorting of goods) or separate products (cartons containing individual sorted products).
Processes handled by PSIwms include: automatic and manual goods receipt, specifying goods storage locations (or immediate release if the carton is not to be stored), order picking, sorting, release and dispatch of goods. The system handles palletization processes and other manual work involving cartons, for instance when labels are damaged or wherever additional work and certain value-added services are needed.
The only hard-copy document is a printed label attached to the dispatched carton.
PSIwms manages all goods flow operations in the warehouse. Designated cartons may be stored in the automatic mini-load storage area. The warehouse also handles the so-called pre-packs – i.e. pre-packed product sets, such as one model of T-shirts in different sizes or colours. Cartons with sorted products are automatically weighed and marked with the carrier’s label and then moved to the goods release location. The process is fully automatic, with individual tasks defined in the form of electronic entries generated by the WMS – the only hard-copy document is a printed label attached to the dispatched carton.
At the core of the system lies the automation of warehouse operations, both through integration with automatic control units and intelligent algorithms managing the work of the warehouse personnel. PSIwms will define the most optimum:
- storage locations,
- goods positioning strategies,
- order picking paths,
- transport routes,
- loading on trucks.
“With WMS in place, which manages all operations at LPP’s Distribution Centre, we are now able to handle highly complex processes. The system manages all stages of goods handling in the warehouse – from receipt and distribution between the domestic warehouse and bonded warehouse, and between the high-bay warehouse and the automatic warehouse, up to sorting and dispatch of goods to individual brand stores and countries.”
Jacek Kujawa, VP at LPP S.A.
Effects of deployment
With the deployment of PSIwms, LPP boosted the efficiency of its Distribution Centre in terms of goods sorting and dispatch across the ever-expanding sales network. At the core of the system lies the automation of warehouse operations, both through integration with automatic control units and intelligent algorithms managing the work of the warehouse personnel. PSIwms defines a number of warehouse parameters and minimises the risk of human error.
With its intuitive user interface and system-defined tasks, PSIwms offers assistance to the warehouse staff and facilitates induction of new employees. The system also plans warehouse operations against existing sales plans.
In the course of the 10-year partnership between LPP and PSI, the system has been optimised to include e-commerce sales and introduce additional WAP planning modules for logistics processes. It is an example of a model partnership with a Client, based on unique and robust business IT processes.