Major Global Apparel Manufacturer

Compact, Unique Merging Solution Saves DC $240,000


“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 improves up-time.”

Background
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.

Problem
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 vendors.

Solution
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.

Results
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 improves up-time.”

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.

Company:

A major global apparel manufacturer

Application:

Merging eighteen receiving lines into three

Challenge:

Efficient merging in a limited space and within budget

Results:

Continuous flow, accumulation-free merging

600 feet (183 m) of accumulation conveyor eliminated

$240,000 in conveyor costs saved

Fully integrated facility that features over five miles (8 km) of conveyor; three carton sorters and one large cross-belt unit sorter; room for 60,000 pallets and 250,000 cases in storage

Perpetual Merge