Honeywell Logistics Solutions enhances operations of retail customer’s logistics centre that handles more than 200,000 shipments a day

Established in 1997 and currently, one of China’s largest convenience store chains, <Meiyijia>, now boasts more than 10,000 stores across provinces including Guangdong, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangxi and Hubei.

This business relies on the logistics services of our customer, <Guangdong Time Express Co., Ltd (Time Express)>, to keep its stores’ inventories and products well-stocked.

What were our customer’s requirements?

As the number of convenience stores grew, the logistics operations of our customer expanded and became more complex. To ensure that its logistics network could meet the demands of the rapidly growing convenience store chain, our customer had to continuously optimise its systems, which resulted in extra staffing hours and inefficiencies. To improve the situation, they built a new logistics centre that covers more than 70,000m2 and consists of receiving and shipping zones, rack storage zone, pick face zone, and valuable merchandise storage zone.

Located in Chashan Town, the new logistics centre was designed to support the delivery for a projected 12,000 convenience stores and provide logistics services for other enterprises. To further enhance the operational efficiency of the logistics centre, and considering the rising labour costs, our customer decided to procure more automated equipment. Through examination and comparison, they eventually chose Swisslog as the project’s integrator and Honeywell Logistics Solutions as its Warehouse Management System and Transportation Management System provider.

How did we meet our customer’s order?

By adopting Honeywell Logistics Solutions Warehouse Management System(HLS WMS) and digital label picking conveyor lines, our customer was able to improve efficiency in warehouse picking operations. As well as enhancing picking speeds, the new system also reduced error rates, improved accuracy rates of products delivered to stores, accelerated the drivers’ delivery times and helped establish a fast handover system between the logistics centre and stores.

A series of enhancement solutions were also implemented to overcome operational bottlenecks including, establishing multiple digital label picking lines and cross-docking for outbound goods.  This automated equipment and digital label picking system, under the unified command of HLS WMS’ smart engine, delivers full control over cargo distribution, cargo return and replacement, and recycling of tray/container.

Today, the logistics centre achieves a shipment average of more than 200,000 boxes a day, with the expectation to grow to 300,000 a day. Picked cargo is controlled in a complex process with the unified deployment of HLS TMS, including vehicle management, routing plan, cargo loading, in-route tracking, store acknowledgement and POD management.

As the logistics centre needs to distribute cargo to 5,000-6,000 stores every day, store orders are assigned according to factors such as transport arrangement plan, balanced box volume for sorting port, wave balance and new store cargo. Due to the high levels of cargo sortation required within the facility, roughly 17,000 boxes/hour, our customer uses two high-speed slide box type sorters for high-volume sortation functions.

In order to ensure efficient product picking in the warehouse, HLS WMS allocates tasks to operators at the sorting port, who then assigns boxes to trolleys of each sorting station according to respective labels. The screen display of each sorting port shows the sorting progress for ongoing workflow performance monitoring.

As part of the ongoing development of its facility, the loose picking zone of Chashan Logistics Centre has also been upgraded. Sliding shelves and one-on-one digital picking lines have been implemented to guarantee picking efficiency, accuracy, and reduce the number of operators. The centre needs to complete hundreds of thousands of loose picking every day, therefore, it has made great efforts to increase operational efficiency. Currently, the logistics centre can complete loose picking tasks for a store within 7 seconds.

What was the end result?

The construction of Chashan Logistics Centre not only supports the rapid expansion of its retail customer’s stores but also creates massive benefits for themselves. The layout of the new facility and systems implemented has increased the rate of space utilisation and significantly expanded the warehouse capacity; the automated logistics systems achieved full cargo dynamic picking and automatic replenishing, reducing operator walking distance, improving operation efficiency and lowering labour force dependency.

As one of the largest scale logistics centres with some of the most advanced digital and automation systems, this innovative and modern logistics centre has become a benchmark for China’s chain store retail logistics.