A major global
apparel manufacturer initiated a project to replace two of its distribution
facilities with one new, efficient, ergonomic center to accommodate a shipping
throughput of 42,000 cartons per day. It awarded the design and execution of the
1,000,000+ square foot project to Peach State Integrated Technologies, an
Atlanta-based logistics and distribution engineering firm. The expected goals of
the project for the manufacturer were 1) to improve order and inventory
accuracy; 2) to reduce the amount of inventory that was being maintained between
the two facilities; 3) to reduce shipping response times and freight costs to
customers; and 4) to gain overall efficiencies of scale from consolidation.
An important part
of the facility design was the receiving area. The project requirements called
for a conveyance system to receive floor-loaded cartons from six containers
simultaneously. In the design, six flows of cartons merge first into three
accumulation lanes; those three lanes then feed a saw-tooth merge prior to an
in-line scale and carton sorter.
The consolidation of these flows into a
single stream of cartons had to occur on a busy receiving dock with limited
space for accumulation conveyor. To acquire this receiving sub-system, Peach
State sent a functional specification to three material handling equipment
Two MHE vendors
presented designs that required 600 feet (183 meters) of accumulation conveyor
between the receiving docks and the merges. Additional conveyor curves were also
required to weave the accumulation conveyor through the confined receiving area.
These factors led to designs that forced large conveyor footprints with the
attendant complex conveyor controls.
A third vendor presented a different
concept for reducing the cost and space requirements to merge eighteen conveyor
lines into three. In its design, six mobile extendable conveyors unload the
eighteen dock doors. Each of those extendable conveyors feeds its own static
belt conveyor incline; those inclines then directly feed three Intralox 2:1
Perpetual Merges. Unlike alternative merging technologies, the Intralox
Perpetual Merges do not require upstream accumulation. For this, the third
vendor was awarded the material handling project for Peach State.
By using these three continuous flow
merging systems that require no starting/stopping of infeed conveyors, Peach
State’s solution permanently eliminated the 600 feet (183 m) of accumulation
conveyor required by the traditional merge solutions—and saved the client
approximately $240,000 of conveyor expenses. The lack of accumulation conveyor
further reduced the equipment footprint in the receiving area, freeing up
valuable floor space for the end user. Finally, because the Intralox Perpetual
Merge mechanically merges the cartons and requires no upstream accumulation, it
eliminated the need for most merge controls and their associated costs.
The new, efficient
distribution center now ably handles the combined product capacity of the two
original facilities. The apparel manufacturer has realized impressive results
since the facility began operating, including reductions in customer freight
costs, improvements in shipping response times, and better ergonomics for
workers due to reduced carton handling requirements.
Dean Starovasnik, the Director of
Solution Development for Peach State, says that the Intralox Perpetual Merge
played an important role in helping the end user realize these compelling
results, especially from a maintenance and cost-reduction perspective. “Having
spent considerable time in the new facility during the year following its
go-live, I can say that the Intralox merges never needed maintenance attention.
Unlike conventional merges with a handful of necessary control devices, this
tool, with its no-controls approach, limits and simplifies maintenance and
According to Starovasnik, the
Perpetual Merge should be considered by OEMs and end users in any retrofit
project where lines are added and need to be merged prior to a sorter.