Wonder, a conglomerate with 13 brands selling party supplies, has increased the automation of its Milton Keynes distribution centre, with Element Logic installing an AutoStore automated storage and retrieval system.
The firm invested £8m in the technology in an effort to drastically improve the capacity of the distribution centre to handle a larger number of customer orders.
This is part of the group’s initiative to reach a revenue target of £500m by 2026, a goal that was announced in late November 2022 when it rebranded itself as Wonder from Amscan International.
Last year Wonder had a turnover ‘in excess’ of £300m, which it claimed was a 40% increase year-on-year. Its brands include Party Delights and Ginger Ray in the UK as well as a host of others across Europe. All of Wonder’s brands sell celebration-related products including the likes of costumes and balloons.
The investment of millions of pounds in this new system shows that improving the capacity and efficiency of its Milton Keynes facility is key to achieving this ambitious target. The 100,000ft² distribution centre recently saw the addition of a 13,500ft² mezzanine floor, to be used to support increased demand for customised and personalised products.
Joe Hennigan, chief executive of Wonder, said: “World-class customer service and experience is one of our key objectives, and this investment will increase both our efficiency and speed of service to customers.
“Element Logic and our distribution and logistics team have been outstanding in scoping and managing the AutoStore investment. It was a complex project and forms an essential element of our ongoing business transformation. We look forward to further evolving our use of the system as we continue to implement our plans to achieve our 2026 target.”
The AutoStore system works by having autonomous robots run along the top of a three-dimensional aluminium grid containing stacks of tote bins.
The robots transport items from the bins to picking stations, reducing the time that needs to be spent on manual picking processes.
It has 39,500 storage bins, with the whole system being 145ft wide and 100ft deep.
Gavin Harrison, UK sales director at Element Logic, said: “Our close collaboration with the team at Wonder enabled us to design and implement a system that simplifies their existing processes and achieves the most efficient material flow of goods throughout their warehouse, supporting their growth aspirations.”
Wonder believes that the new system will reduce its annual road usage by 200,000 miles, supporting its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.