Throughput Increases 35-40%
Conveyor system in new distribution center increases throughput with less manual labor.
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.
When a Johnson & Johnson company official was asked if he noticed any immediate results, he answered, “Absolutely.
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.
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.
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.”
This is only one of many buildings owned by Johnson & Johnson, a large medical supply company. 85 employees on three shifts work in the 235,000 sq. ft. building.