F Schumacher & Co.

recycle ink warehouse success story warehouse layout image

Low Maintenance, Reduced Manual Lifting
Utilization of work stations and multiple conveyor systems produce a system of operation ergonomically safer and more cost-efficient.

Three and a half years ago, F. Schumacher & Co., a distributor of renowned Waverly fabrics, Schumacher fabrics and wallcovering, and manufacturer of high-quality home fashion decorating accessories decided to upgrade and automate their production operations. Mr. Bud Randall, Corporate Facilities Manager responsible for overseeing this entire project from concept to completion, contacted Century Conveyor, Inc., a Hytrol sales & service center based in South Plainfield, New Jersey.

Based on past projects Century had completed, F. Schumacher & Co., was very confident that Century Conveyor Service, Inc. working with Mr. Randall could provide them with assistance in the design and layout of a conveyor system which would be cost-effective and efficient. Schumacher & Co. elected to construct a new 526,000 sq. ft. distribution facility in Richburg, South Carolina. The objective was the consolidation and relocation of their distribution operations for several of their facilities located in various parts of the country.

A primary concern of F. Schumacher & Co. was the automation of the material handling portion of their product line. This included handling of fabrics, wallcoverings, bedspreads, curtains, and pillows. Before the installation of the system, the majority of their production operations were handled manually, involving a great deal of lifting, and moving of products by carts.

Through the utilization of work stations and five individualized conveyor systems, Century and Hytrol greatly reduced the manual lifting requirements and produced a system of operation which was ergonomically safer and cost-efficient.

Integrating a variety of HYTROL conveyors, five independent systems were created:

  • SYSTEM 1 – Transporting of “ready to ship” cases from the home fashion production areas to a staging area for shipping
  • SYSTEM 2 – Three packing lines for conveying rolls of fabrics
  • SYSTEM 3 – Wallcovering packing line
  • SYSTEM 4 – Heavy freight line
  • SYSTEM 5 – Shipping line for sample books of fabric and wallcoverings

Since its installation, the system has run perfectly. F. Schumacher & Co. has been very pleased with the system’s reliability and low maintenance, and Mr. Randall highly recommends the use of Hytrol equipment.

Application Data

The nature of products here required the use of a variety of conveyors. In some cases, the live roller was used for general transportation of boxes. In other areas, belt conveyors were used for transporting unboxed items. These slider bed units are also quieter. Heavy-duty 20-CR and 2514-CRA were used for conveying and accumulating heavier loads. Finally, boxes waiting for shipment are moved by an ABA zero pressure unit or in some cases a gravity unit.

System #1 starts in the sample manufacturing area. It uses a Hytrol Model SP. Items packaged in the home fashion area or showroom samples, using a special container, travel via an incline and ABA to the shipping area. LRC curves are also used and, to avoid accumulation in these curves, a photo-eye senses when the conveyor is full and shuts the unit down.

System #2 consists of three packing lines for fabrics. Fabric orders are picked from static shelving, placed in a cart, and pushed to a cutting station. There, the fabric is cut according to the order and placed on a roller bed belt unit which takes it to the packing station. The packer can control or feed items as needed to that station. After packing, they are placed on another roller bed conveyor which takes them to a scale area. Roller bed conveyor was preferred here because of the potentially higher loads. Some of the RB conveyors used a TW type frame which was more eye-pleasing and had no protruding edges. At the end of the packing conveyor are a scale and an operator who weighs the roll. The operator pushes the roll off the scale onto a conveyor with a flipper. The roll is then moved on a 5 ft. wide cleated belt which takes it to a rack. This rack travels to UPS and is returned after emptied.

System #3 is the wallpaper line. Wallpaper is picked from storage rack and placed near the packers who put the rolls of paper in boxes. Boxes are then placed on the conveyor. There are two slider bed Hytrol TL units side by side with work stations on one side. These belt conveyors end at a wide 20-CR (chain roller). The chain roller has a plow mounted to it controlled by the scale operators. These operators move the plow the direction necessary to get work in process. The 20-CR was used to provide good traction for diverting the heavy boxes. After the 20-CR, boxes accumulate on an ABA zero pressure waiting for shipping.

System #4 is the heavy-duty line for boxes of fabric weighing up to 400 lbs. Again, rolls of fabric are brought to the packing stations next to the conveyor, a 20-CR, used to best convey heavy boxes. At the workstation table, boxes are loaded and sealed. When finished, a set of rollers extending from the table to the 20-CR can be lifted by a foot-operated pedal. Boxed are then pushed onto the 20-CR. When the rollers are lowered, the box travels to the scale and strapping area. A break belt is located before the scale. When the operator calls for it, the box transfers to the scale is weighed and then sent to the binder. The binder bands it in one direction transfers it at 90 degrees with a heavy-duty push-off, bands it in the other direction then conveys it to a gravity line for removal by a lift truck.

System #5 is used for processing sample books of fabric and paper. Samples are staged on a gravity conveyor, transferred to a short Hytrol 1.9-SP then to an ABA via a special pop up o-ring transfer. Samples not boxed travel through a shrink wrap machine before shipping.


Johnson & Johnson

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Background

When the need to consolidate operations came up, Johnson & Johnson realized that efficiencies could be upgraded as well. The company recently consolidated one of its major product lines from the Dallas and New Jersey warehouses into one Distribution center. The facility distributes operating room equipment, orthopedic equipment, catheters, and other similar products.

The original system in this building consisted of mostly gravity conveyor used in picking orders. Growth and consolidation necessitated changes. The company wanted to be able to move completed goods through the system more quickly and automatically sort them by destination in the shipping area.

Facts

  • Location: New Jersey
  • Facility: Distribution center
  • Solution: Gravity, minimum and zero-pressure conveyor. TKF vertical lifts, QS 18 lane sorter.
  • Product handled: Operating room equipment

Figures

  • 235,000 sqf
  • 85 employees
  • 1350-1400 cartons per day
  • 1.5 year ROI
  • 35-40% throughput increase

Automation Integration

Much of the conveyor system has been designed for split case picking. Items are picked from gravity rack and placed into boxes. The boxes are moved along the gravity conveyor which is mounted on the rack. They serpentine through the system until filled. If orders are filled before reaching the end, they can be placed on one of three TKF vertical lifts. These take the completed orders to an overhead line consisting of zero-pressure ABA conveyor. If boxes reach the end of the line, they move up an incline to the ABA, or, they can be pushed onto an international shipping line.

From the overhead line, boxes drop down to the QS-1 8-lane sorter. They are sorted here by destination. Two Accu-Sort scanners located on the decline read labels on the top or side. Boxes which are misread, are UPS, or destined for a full line go to one of two overflow lines. All lines after the sorter are ACC minimum pressure accumulating conveyors.

From this warehouse, items are shipped to the entire United States, and some foreign countries. Shipments are mostly by truck, but some go by UPS. UPS packing stations are located on the UPS/overflow lines. Boxes going to the sort lines are palletized by hand.

Outcome

When asked about Century’s involvement, Johnson & Johnson was most positive; “They’ve done a tremendous job in terms of meeting the schedule given the time frame that we had. The system is just great. It is very quiet, smooth, and it works very well and seems to be very consistent. The real challenge was giving us what we needed in the amount of space we needed. Jim Baxter from Century was able to do much of the layout and planning during his first visit. They were not able to encroach on the full case side of the system, and with the help of Jim and Ray Roberts, they were able to put in a good system in a small amount of space.”

The technicians have already informed us that they are pushing fewer boxes physically along the gravity conveyor because now the completed ones have been removed from the system. And then we’ve noticed that our throughput has increased by about 35 to 40 percent in terms of the number of boxes in an eight-hour period. Before this new conveyor system, we were able to move about nine hundred to a thousand boxes throughout the system just pushing them manually in eight hours. Now, we can move about 1350 almost 1400 boxes using the conveyor system.”

Consolidating the suture product line into one warehouse allows the company to use the system at its peak efficiency, with no increase in labor. Payback on this system will be about 1.5 years. Much of this cost reduction will come from the cut in inventory.

Simon & Schuster

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Background

Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS Corporation, is one of the largest book publishers in the United States of America. Beginning as a “Mom and Pop” operation in 1924, the first book they published was a crossword puzzle book. Since then, they have published many bestsellers and even Pulitzer prize-winning titles, becoming a significant force in publishing today.


The Riverside, NJ Distribution Center is one of two DCs, and services all of North America and caters to an international arena as well. 

Challenge

Due to the Internet and today’s fast-paced environment, Simon & Schuster is challenged to get it’s product out in the market quicker. With a volume surge in 2002-2003, they collaborated with Century Conveyor Service, Inc. of South Plainfield, NJ to develop a two-phase operation to meet this challenge. The two-phased upgrade met the goals of Simon & Schuster with absolutely minimal downtime.

Solution

The first phase, implemented in July of 2007, overhauled the shipping system. The shipping sorter was replaced and put in the air, which doubled the speed and tripled the dock spots to meet the demands of the market. The second phase, completed in June of 2008, gave the picking system a much needed upgrade, adding sortation to the split case picking system.
The two-phased upgrade meets the goals of Simon & Schuster. “We did not add any man power to the operation…and cut our cycle time in half…[and] we’ve increased our accuracy,” said Schaeffer. The need for dependability, as well as speed and accuracy, is also a crucial factor in this demanding operation. The conveyor runs at least 16 hours a day; much more during peak seasons.
“…It keeps working and it works very well for us, very dependably,”. It works dependably, it’s reasonably priced, mechanically it’s simple enough to maintain, and it gets the job done. It’s hard to explain, but in this world of operations, being able to depend on something – to depend on something that works well and flawlessly every day for a reasonable price is a big thing.”
Dave Schaeffer, Vice President of Distribution and Fulfillment

Worldpac/Advanced Auto Parts

Worldpac/Advanced Auto Parts success story retail and ecommerce distribution center 3d drawing model
Worldpac/Advanced Auto Parts success story retail and ecommerce distribution center 3d drawing model

Background

Everyone’s had an unhappy experience. The repair shop had promised your car would be ready on Tuesday. But the necessary part still hasn’t arrived yet. So now you’ll have to wait until the end of the week… .or maybe even longer.

WORLDPAC is doing everything it can to make this all-too-common scenario a thing of the past. This nationwide distributor of automotive parts for imported vehicles has streamlined its entire operation to ensure that the parts reach the repair shop when promised. WORLDPAC’s modern, 123,000 square-foot distribution center in Edison, N.J. is a key part of that effort.

WORLDPAC is a company on the move, having recently acquired the auto parts distributor Metrix. The company operates two distribution centers-one in Newark, Calif., the other in Edison, New Jersey. The Edison facility ships to 31 branch replenishment offices as well as to individual repair shops around the country. About 60 percent of the parts handled are sourced domestically; the remainder comes from overseas.

Challenge

Before installation of the new system, order-fulfillment was a largely manual operation, says Patrick J. Healy, the company’s director of distribution. “The people moved through the facility, not the order,” Healy recalls, adding that today it’s the other way around.

Facts

  • Location: Edison, NJ
  • Facility: Distribution center
  • Solution: Hytrol live roller, heavy-duty incline, and gravity conveyors

 

Figures

  • 123,000 sqf
  • 160 employees
  • 36,000 auto part SKUs
  • 1,000 orders per day

Automation Integration

There are two types of orders: those going to the branches and those going direct to repair shops. Picking for both types starts in the zones on the ground floor. Items are packed into totes and placed on one of two incline conveyors for transport up to the picking stations on the mezzanine. Computer-generated reflective tapes guide the consumer-direct totes through the picking process. The totes for the larger branch replenishment orders are color-coded.

The main conveyor line on the mezzanine is a horizontal live-roller unit (SPEZ model) with Hytrol’s unique EZ Logic accumulation feature. EZ Logic automatically senses product presence and effectively controls the accumulation and release of product through the four picking zones.

Pop-up transfers automatically move the totes onto gravity conveyors at the picking stations. After all, items have been picked at one station, the operator places the tote back on the powered conveyor for movement to the next station if further picking is required. The computer controls built into the system ensure that orders involving multiple totes stay together.

The completed orders move back out on the takeaway conveyor, travel around a curve segment, and then head down the incline to the shipment-preparation area. Branch replenishment orders go directly to a separate section of the distribution center. There, the operators build pallet loads, which will be delivered by company trucks.

The customer-direct orders are diverted onto a powered conveyor line that takes them through packing and manifesting. These orders are handled by express carriers for next-day delivery.

 

Outcome

The new operation boasts a simple and streamlined order-flow that all but eliminates manual handling and movement. The system integrates several of Hytrol’s most popular units: live roller, gravity, and heavy-duty incline. Healy and his staff worked closely with Century Conveyor, Inc. in the design and installation. Century Conveyor, also based in Edison, is a systems integrator and Hytrol distributor.

The new system is fast, flexible, and responsive. It’s been designed to swiftly handle different sizes of totes as well as corrugated boxes. Also, oversized parts like tailpipes can move unimpeded throughout the distribution center.

"The totes go through the system flawlessly. They go through quickly, too. A customer-direct order can be picked, checked, packaged, and manifested in as little as 20 minutes."
Patrick J. Healy
Director of Distribution

In addition to the speed and responsiveness, shipment accuracy has increased, too. Plus there’s one more benefit: The systems integrator is located only a few miles away. “If there’s a question or a problem,” says Healy, “I know that Century Conveyor can get here right away.”

In the end, the biggest beneficiaries of the streamlined Edison operation may be the end-consumers. Their cars are ready when promised-and they get on with their lives.

HD Smith/AmerisourceBergen

hd smith success story image
hd smith success story image

Background

Before the implementation of the conveyor system, H. D. Smith had only two separate pick lines, one for over-the-counter products and one for prescription products. The total conveyor system then was only about 100 feet of powered conveyor and 300 feet of gravity. In implementing the new conveyor system, the company’s main objectives were to increase primary pick locations from 15,000 to 30,000, increase worker productivity, and shorten cycle time.

Automation Integration

RECEIVING: All receiving is done at the north end of the building. The product is received and brought by pallet to the receiving stations and scanned into the system. Products are removed from every carton and placed into a barcoded tote. All corrugate is deposited into an overhead trash conveyor (Hytrol Model TH) which carries it to an automatic baler located outside the building. The product is then married to the tote. The mainframe computer communicates with the conveyor control system (CCS) and tells the CCS which zone to send the tote. The totes are then conveyed across the building to the pick module, sorted to the correct zone, and placed into the correct pick location.

PICKING: Orders are printed in waves at the order induction station. Each order has its barcode denoting an order identification number. The pick sheet is then married to a barcoded (license plate) pick tote. The host system then communicates to the CCS which pick zone or zones the tote must be sent. The tote is then routed only to the required pick zone(s).

CHECKING: Once an order is complete, the tote is conveyed to the checking area. The checkers remove the tote from the Hytrol zero-pressure accumulating conveyor (Model 190-ABEZ) and scan the pick ticket. Each item is then scanned and placed into a shipping tote. When the order has been confirmed complete and correct, a lid is placed on the tote. The tote is then placed onto the conveyor and moved to the shipping sortation conveyor (Hytrol Model SC). The computer communicates the license plate and its assigned sortation lane to the CCS.

SHIPPING: The totes are conveyed to and through an automatic strapper. The strapped totes are then inducted into the sortation system, the license plate is scanned, the appropriate sortation line determined, and the tote is sorted out.

EMPTY REPLENISHMENT TOTES: Once the replenishment totes are empty, they are placed on the line with the pick totes. On each pick level, there is a divert location where the empty replenishment totes are diverted off and conveyed back to the receiving station to be reused.

Outcome

Before the installation of this system, the average lines shipped per DC worker was 40 per hour. With the new system, the average is currently 104 lines per hour. Pickers are picking 250-300 lines per hour. Checkers are checking 350-400 lines per hour. In the past year, the volume has increased by 50%.

Recycle Ink

Steel drum conveyor system
recycle ink warehouse success story warehouse layout image

Background

When Recycle Inc. had the opportunity to design a new container processing plant from the ground up, an automated conveyor system was high on the list of priorities. Company managers wanted to replace a largely manual handling operation with a conveyor-based automated approach that would be both more efficient and safer.

Based on the new facility’s first few months of operation, they were right. Employee productivity climbed 20% just in the first week of start-up. Throughput projections predict that the new plant will process four times as much material as the old plant did in the same amount of time and with the same number of employees.

Challenge

Jeffrey Bey, President of Recycle Inc., cites several reasons behind his company’s decision to switch to automated handling. “Essentially what we are is a manufacturing operation,” Bey explains. “We use one process to wash and prepare containers that will be reused, and another process to shred or granulate containers that are to be destroyed.

“Our incoming raw materials are the containers themselves. These containers — especially the larger ones — tend to be unwieldy, and some of them are fairly heavy. In the past, we handled the containers manually at several points during processing. Given our throughput requirements, we had the potential for accidents, and our approach wasn’t very efficient. As the demand for our services escalated, we knew that we needed to come up with a completely new way of handling containers — one that would take advantage of the benefits offered by automation.”

After the company located a suitable building for a new facility in South Plainfield, New Jersey, Bey assembled a project team to study new materials handling methods. The team contacted several nearby conveyor distributors for design ideas. According to Bey, some distributors balked at the idea of getting involved in up-front design work without first being assured that they would get the job.

“We were looking for ideas,” says Bey, “and we were also looking for a distributor and a conveyor manufacturer that would partner with us on this project.” Fortunately, the local Hytrol Conveyor distributor, South Plainfield-based Century Conveyor, didn’t hesitate to tackle the project.

Facts

  • Location: South Plainfield, NJ
  • Facility: Container management
  • Solution: Hytrol chain-driven live roller conveyor and accumulation sections

Figures

  • 86,500 sqf
  • 70 employees
  • 5 to 85 gallon IBC and polyethylene containers
  • 80,000 containers per month

Automation Integration

Working closely with the project team, representatives from Century Conveyor, from Hytrol, and a nearby automation firm designed a conveyor system that combines powered conveyors with smart sensors and custom software. At every decision point in the system, sensors supply feedback to the control program on the movement of individual containers, on the performance of the conveyors, and even on the maintenance requirements of the sensors themselves.

At the company’s old processing facility, employees manually handled much of the incoming containers. The plant did have a conveyor system in place, but it was a single straight-line design that simply transported the containers from one workstation to the next. The old conveyor system did not include any powered transfers or spurs.

The design of the new conveyor system at the South Plainfield warehouse greatly reduces the amount of manual handling by relying on automated conveyors to move the containers.

The new plant inspects and cleans 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene containers and intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) for reuse. Also, it provides certified destruction of 5- to 85-gallon polyethylene, steel, and fiber containers, and of IBCs.

Incoming containers are transferred from trucks to one of four takeaway conveyor lines. Based on their composition, disposition, and whether they will be prepared for reuse, the containers are carried by the conveyors to several possible destinations.

Containers that are to be reused are conveyed to an inspection loop where employees evaluate their condition. Powered roller conveyors then carry the containers that have passed inspection to one of three fully automated washing stations. After washing and another inspection, the containers are ready to be returned to their owners for reuse. All of these containers are captive within a closed-loop system between their owners, customers, and the South Plainfield plant.

Containers that are slated to be destroyed are conveyed to other workstations within the building for processing. In this part of its operation, the facility handles containers made of steel, polyethylene, or fiber.

Conveyors carry steel containers to a shredder; the scrap metal that is generated goes to electric mini-mills to be made into reinforcing rods for use in concrete construction projects. Polyethylene containers are ground into pellets which are then sold to be made into various corrugated plastic products including plastic drums. The fiber containers are conveyed to a workstation where they are broken down before being supplied to a paper mill for recycling.

Except for the belt conveyors that carry materials to waiting trailers, nearly all of the conveyors used in the new system are powered roller. Strategically-placed accumulation sections control the grouping of the containers before being transferred to workstation infeed conveyors. At two points, powered turntables rotate the containers 180 degrees (see drawing).

Outcome

“This new system is enabling us to process 80,000 containers per month with almost no manual handling,” notes Bey, “and it can handle a lot more. So in addition to being far more efficient and having a much greater throughput capacity, we now also have a facility that’s substantially safer for our employees.”

Century Conveyor Systems enabled full-function industrial container management, and the new system exponetionally increased tthroughput. Faster order-picking and increased flexibility helped Recycle Inc improve order-filling accuracy and stability.

California

In August 2017, LaFayette took its first steps in being a nationwide company. We had already developed a group of employees in the area, who created a team atmosphere, we just needed an office location. Since the day the west coast office opened its priority was to service the greater Los Angeles area and continues to do so to this day.

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New Jersey

Century Conveyor Systems is a 30+ year old material handling system integration specialist company located in South Plainfield, New Jersey. While the LaFayette team provides remote support from the Danville, Ky office, Century Conveyor Systems adds extra support with their emergency hands-on service team.

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Kentucky

LaFayette Engineering, Inc. is an electrical controls company headquarters based out of Danville, Kentucky. Our primary business is the design and installation of controls for conveyor systems, including high-speed case sortation. LaFayette Engineering maintains the technical capabilities and range of expertise that you may have come to expect only from very large engineering firms, combined with the flexibility, adaptability and affordable personal service that only a small engineering firm can provide.

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