Kimberly-Clark Solves Storage and Retrieval Problems for FMGCs
For FMCG distribution centres, the most difficult challenge is completing orders that cover high volume, fast moving and fluctuating quantities of goods, many of which are subject to regular promotions and strict use-by-dates. This, coupled with an economic climate that demands greater efficiencies at lower cost, means that more than ever before these networks require sophisticated storage and retrieval systems.
An automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) can satisfy these rigorous requirements by reducing order fulfilment times and improving order accuracy and efficiency, as well as minimising labour, optimising space, reducing loss and lowering operating costs. In turn, delivery capability improves, as does customer service. Most importantly, ASRSs can offer a return on investment that is often achieved in under two years.
Increasingly, many well-known and loved Australian FMCG brands, such as Kimberly-Clark Australia are turning to ASRSs to grapple with the complex requirements of FMCG distribution centres.
What is Dexion RDS?
The Dexion RDS is a multi-function system that controls the physical and operational aspects of a company’s distribution centre from receipt of goods, to processing, storage, order fulfilment and despatch in real time. It bridges the gap between enterprise systems and materials handling equipment and is engineered to complement the customer’s existing systems.
RDS provides a single interface to the customer’s existing ERP or WMS, aggregating multiple features for the varying functions within the warehouse and is modular in design so it delivers maximum flexibility when building a solution. Dexion is able to configure RDS to fit the task, regardless of how simple or complex the application requires.
The RDS configurations available to users are almost countless, ensuring that each system can be specifically tailored to the user’s requirements. Modules can be added as and when new functionality is required.
Dexion’s RDS constantly regulates field devices and sensors, host connectivity and data driven rules of materials handling equipment in real time. It simultaneously manages and co-ordinates paperless technologies, such as barcode scanners, weigh scales, pick to light, voice and RF to manage the inventory in a distribution centre.
The RDS user interface is web-based and easily accessible from wherever there’s an internet connection. It is user friendly and intuitive. The integrated Command & Control (ICC) module allows the operator to monitor the system’s current state and performance, whilst having the mobility to move throughout the centre.
RDS Visual provides an at-a-glance overview of every physical task. Real-time information can be arranged with a point-and-click interface that displays the key tasks operating within a distribution centre.
Kimberly-Clark’s award winning distributions system
When FMCG giant Kimberly-Clark Australia (KCA) approached Dexion in 2006, the manufacturer of Kleenex® Tissues, Wondersoft® toilet tissue, Viva® paper towel and Huggies® nappiesfaced a major challenge: how to create a flexible ‘buffer’ between production and final delivery that would produce cost efficiencies for both KCA and its clients.
Dexion responded to the brief of overhauling KCA’s existing distribution network by designing and implementing national distribution centres, complete with ASRS, controlled by RDS, that would reduce distribution costs and inventory holding, as well as improve customer service levels and minimise OH&S risks.
The new system, which integrated with KCA’s other systems, redefined the roles of the regional distribution centres to build a network that incorporated end-to-end processes from production through to customer delivery via two national distributions centres based in SA and NSW.
Dexion was intimately involved with the building and scoping of the new and improved distribution centre sites, one of which now comprises seven 25-metre high cranes that serve nine levels and 41,000 pallet positions. At full speed, it can pick 190 pallets an hour.
Critically, and in response to the growing demand of national retailers such as Coles and Woolworths for improved ‘trackability’ of individual orders, the Dexion RDS required full implementation of serial shipping contained code (SSCC) barcode pallet labels across the KCA network.
Two special barcodes were developed to ensure that a module of goods could be correctly and uniquely labelled at every stage of the supply chain, from factory to supermarket shelf and beyond. Today, the SSCC is the central point of Kimberly-Clark’s processes, driving the RDS and other technology systems spoked around it.
According to KCA’s Mario Carniato, the new system has provided KCA with such a detailed level of information that it’s now in a position to offer the client continued and evolving benefits.
“Implementing this system now allows us to be proactive and add more value to our client’s businesses,” said Carniato.
Dexion played an integral role in helping KCA rewrite the book on FMCG distribution, such that in 2011 KCA won the Award for Excellence in Supply Chain Management and Distribution at The Smart Awards 2011.