Advanced automation technology from Knapp is enabling The Very Group to fulfil customer orders in 30 minutes at Skygate, its new distribution centre in the East Midlands.
According to the partnership, the 850,000-ft2 facility has secured a number of benefits for the online retailer and its customers, including greater product availability, faster refunds and enhanced ability to handle peak trading periods.
“A fast, seamless fulfilment operation is vital for great customer experience, and that’s what we focused on when developing Skygate’s highly automated technology,” said Phil Hackney, chief operating officer at The Very Group.
“Throughout the pandemic, that technology has helped us to manage huge volumes of orders. It also enabled us to bring all of our clothing and footwear returns under one roof for the first time and means we’re well positioned for future growth.”
Despite a surge in orders during its first year as the pandemic fuelled demand for e-commerce, Skygate managed to deliver the performance required, the retailer said. The automated picking, sortation and packaging technology from Knapp enables orders to be ready for dispatch within 30 minutes, compared to around four hours at Very’s previous fulfilment centres. The fastest order to date, processed in July 2021, was ready for dispatch in 17 minutes.
Very added Knapp’s EcoPocket system is key to both rapid order fulfilment and efficient returns processing at Skygate. This pocket sorter technology uses a matrix sortation algorithm to arrange products in RFID-enabled pockets into the correct sequence to fulfil customer orders at the packing stations.
Items are placed in the pockets at a series of workstations, where totes of product arrive automatically from Knapp’s OSR Shuttle Evo storage system. Taking an item from a tote, the operator scans it and drops it into a pocket with a single swipe action.
One of the largest shuttle systems in Europe, the automatic store features over 400 shuttles and provides almost 640,000 storage locations. Combined with 120,000 pockets in the EcoPocket system and 26,000 pallet locations in the manual store, Skygate houses an inventory of six million items.
Also featuring a dispatch sorter with 96 destination chutes, the automated logistics solution is controlled by Knapp’s KiSoft suite of software, comprising warehouse management system, warehouse control system and machine control systems for seamless integration.
“We are extremely proud to have developed this brand-new distribution centre from concept to reality in just three years,” added Anton Tschurwald, vice president retail solutions for Knapp AG. “A strong spirit of partnership with the customer meant that Skygate was delivered within budget and on time, despite going live during the Covid-19 lockdown.”