Perfect product flow may be only a theory, but some companies come enviably closer to its practice than others. Third-party logistics provider Automated Distribution Systems of Edison, NJ, for example, operates with an accuracy rate of 99.85% while moving 27 million units per year through its 408,000-sq.-ft. facility.
ADS handles shoes (about 60% of its volume), apparel, housewares, and health and cosmetics products, and it keeps them flowing efficiently with a highly automated operation whose backbone is a pick-and-put system. The pick system comprises 56 carousels in 14 pods; the put system consists of 24 carousels in 12 pods. The FKI Logistex White Systems carousels are linked by a McHugh (now RedPrairie) WMS.
Bruce Mantz, ADS’s director of operations, is enthusiastic about carousels, which he feels are generally under-utilized. In fact, Mantz once balked at installing a tilt-tray sorter that a client requested. He held out for carousels instead because he was convinced that they would make the overall operation more flexible. “Right now I do everything from toasters right down to tubes of lipstick, all from the same equipment,” Mantz says. He points out that since carousels are modular, and the light bars have multiple displays, he can move shelves to almost any elevation.
ADS is about to embark on upgrading all its systems. Mantz admits that it’s a big and difficult undertaking, but necessary to meet the needs of ADS customers. “I’m really excited about my company’s approach toward technology,” he says.