Modexpress (formerly known as CB Fashion) unburdens their customers by taking care of the entire fulfilment process for them. Customers include large players in the fashion and lifestyle industry, such as Suitsupply, NA-KD, Scapino and Micro Fashion.
Next to the revenue growth of existing customers and expansion of the overall customer basis, Modexpress was confronted with a shift in order profiles. To face these challenges, Modexpress realized the need to optimize their current warehouse processes.
Pigeon holes and packaging
The previous process was highly manually, working with pigeonhole (Put-To-Light) cabinets, packaging tables and an automated packaging machine. “This was perfect for the number of orders we were processing at the time, but with the growing number of orders, we needed to achieve a higher throughput. Therefore, we started looking for a flat sorter and shipping sorter that could be used as an extension of the current installation rather than a replacement.” Jan Kooijman, process manager at Modexpress explains.
“We invested a lot of time in the design phase of this project, to ensure the installation of the best solution without compromises. Modexpress started out with various options and layouts for the expansion, including a wildcard, ‘a greenfield project approach’ . By reviewing and discussing all these options in depth, we got a lot of insight in the creativity and flexibility of the integrators that we were considering. For us, this was an important aspect. We went back to the drawing board a number of times, because the circumstances and scope changed. In hindsight, this enabled us to review multiple layout options and I believe this was very beneficial for the end result.”
Sorting small and large orders in the same batch
Jaco Wobma was responsible for the IT project management at Modexpress. He explains: “The final solution utilised all available space and offered a process to handle small and large e-commerce orders on the same sorter. The items are sorted in batches and pigeon hole cabinets with LED lighting are used to further sort the products per order. From these cabinets, items are directly taken to packaging tables. We have also set up a parameter in the system to indicate large orders. When a batch includes a large order, the sorter uses one of the chutes to bundle that order. With this process we can bypass the pigeon holes."
"We use the different sides of the slide tray sorter for different types of orders. Client specific orders are packaged on one side of the sorter. Documents are added manually and the products move through an automatic foil packaging system. This system was already in place and has been integrated into the new flow. The other side of the sorter is used for non EU orders which need an extra document on the outside. These items are packed manually before they are pushed onto a conveyor. This conveyor merges with the one connected to the packaging machine. Consecutively it passes through a scanner that recognises the product and takes a picture as proof of delivery. Finally, this conveyor automatically inducts the products into the shipping sorter."
“The final solution utilised all available space and offered a process to handle small and large e-commerce orders on the same sorter.”
Jaco Wobma, Modexpress
LED put-to-light cabinets
The pigeon hole cabinets play an important role in this project. Giedrius Vasiliauskas, Project Manager IT from Equinox MHE says: “This is the first installation featuring the LED put-to-light cabinets. Together with our colleagues in Lithuania, we have created the controls for the LED put-to-light cabinets. These cabinets offer a number of benefits. The most important advantage is the improvement in providing a clear guidance which reduces the risk of miss-sorts. Traditional PTL cabinets use a display in combination with a single light indication in a horizontal position. By using LED strips in a vertical position, we maximise the visibility. In addition, we have 10 LEDs per location that we can control separately. This allows us to work with patterns and different colours to guide the operators. This opens up a completely new range of possibilities!
The cabinets are used to sort items per order. Each cabinet has monitors and scanners to display tasks and progress. Operators adjust the monitor to the perfect working height with the extendable arm. For this particular solution we work with green, blue, orange and red colour codes to indicate specific tasks or errors. After scanning an item, the LED lights indicate the location by fully lighting the left side and partially lighting the right side with blue lights. Once a location is finished, the LED lights on the picking side light up green. This very visible solution supports the operators in efficiently and comfortably handling the items.”
A total number of 20 cabinets are now used. Each cabinet has 36 pigeon holes, but these can be divided by using a separator. This enables a total of 54 functional pigeon holes per cabinet.
“Traditional PTL cabinets use a display in combination with a single light indication in a horizontal position. By using LED strips in a vertical position, we maximise the visibility.”
Giedrius Vasiliauskas, Equinox MHE
Black Friday deadline
The project was planned with a very strict deadline. Everything had to be up and running before Black Friday. Delay was therefore not an option and the personnel was faced with a peak throughput shortly after handover. Training took place a few weeks before, to ensure all personnel was comfortable using the system before the busiest time of the year arrived.
Jan Kooijman: “Because this was an expansion within our existing warehouse, we had to continue our operations while installation took place. Of course this caused some complications, but by keeping everyone informed and openly discussing the progress and planning, we were able to continue our work side by side without too much frustration. The installation was finished on time and we have successfully carried out our Black Friday deliveries.”
Modexpress is a dedicated expert in fashion and lifestyle since 1985, supporting fashion and life-style companies by taking the entire logistics process off their hands. With six state-of-the-art branches in the Netherlands, they have a solid presence in the logistics hotspot of Europe. Additionally, they have an extensive global strategic network.
“The installation was finished on time and we have successfully carried out our Black Friday deliveries.”
Jan Kooijman, Modexpress