CSL Provide Automation for Online Fashion Retailer

A leading 3PL provider turned to CSL to provide the automation know-how for a new ecommerce operation, on behalf of their client, a multi-channel fast fashion retailer. The project was an integral part of the fit-out of a new 250,000sq ft site, which was undertaken recently.

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The brief was to provide a robust and efficient solution to manage a dual function system, over a 4 floor mezzanine storage picking operation.   The system had to deliver replenishment cartons and empty nested order pick totes from the ground floor to any of the 4 mezzanine levels.  The same solution also had to be able to collect the finished order picked totes from any of the 4 levels and deliver to ground floor.

Following a lengthy in-depth design and selection process undertaken with the client, CSL were selected to provide 2 identical multi-floor order picking/ replenishment solutions.  As the two systems were identical, they were to be replicated very easily as part of a future expansion plan for the same site.  

One of the key requirements of the conveying project was consideration of the throughput to service a combined picked orders of 250/hour and inbound replenishment volume @ 250/hour as well feeding to/from all 4 floors. 

The challenge was to combine multiple functions from the same solution to ensure the demands of the business were met, both for the year ahead and in the future.

The mezzanine area was divided into 2 order picking areas, for which each one required an identical solution to service all 4 mezzanine levels with the top floor level being almost 13 metres in height.

The start of the process on the ground floor level where, along with stacks of empty totes, inbound stock in cartons are manually loaded onto an indexing conveyor and the product details automatically registered.  Bar codes on both boxes and totes were read by the CSL control system which initiated a destination floor level pre-determined by the WMS.

Any ”Non-reads” were transferred off line and back to the loading personnel for manual inspection prior to being re-presented.

CSL utilised a non-contact accumulating conveyor, with 24v motorised rollers for the majority of the scheme, ensuring the accumulation function of non-contact queuing and maintaining a “fresh air” gap between various sizes of boxes to eliminate product crush and provide controlled singulation.

Once the barcode was read, the items transferred into one of two side-by-side high speed hoists, via independently driven right angle belt transfers.  

Each pick tower housed 2 hoists, giving 4 hoists in total.  Each hoist incorporated 2 carrier platforms, one above the other, giving a combined capacity of 8 platforms which allowed picked orders to enter the hoist on one level whilst stock replenishment / empty totes could discharge simultaneously on a different level to drastically cut transit times.

Each of the 4 mezzanine floors incorporated 2 conveyor systems; an upper tier motorised roller system feeds the order picked totes into the hoist, whilst stacks of empty totes or cartons of replenishment stock were discharged out of the lower tier of the hoist in the opposite direction onto the same floor concurrently.

To keep the conveyor footprint on each floor to a minimum, 90 degree transfers were incorporated throughout to take product to/from the hoist platforms.

CSL provided each of the 2 Lift Towers with their own individual control panel and Siemens PLC which housed a 10” colour touch screen including a full graphics package with integrated fault diagnostics.

The overall project as delivered by Conveyor Systems Limited has been deemed a huge success as it was delivered in a timely fashion, on budget and has been performing over and above the contracted requirements