Leading online and commercial business supplies and solutions brand, Staples, is benefiting from an automated logistics system delivered by KNAPP at its distribution centre in Rockingham, Corby.

Staples’ Rockingham distribution centre.

Located adjacent to motorsport’s legendary Rockingham track – Europe’s fastest banked oval racing circuit – Staples’ distribution facility is equally focused on speed. The 528,000 sq ft DC features automated intralogistics systems from KNAPP to serve its online consumers and contract customers with items from its range of 50,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

Staples offers delivery on the next working day to almost all of mainland UK. “The automated handling solution helps us to meet our delivery promise,” says Kevin Lewis, Supply Chain Director for Staples, “through improved picking accuracy and high-speed operation. The design of the fulfilment systems means that it’s difficult for picking staff to make a mistake, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and minimizing returns.”

Shuttle technology

The intralogistics solution includes KNAPP’s proven OSR Shuttle™ automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for slowermoving products, a pick-to-light area for fastmovers and a pick-to-belt zone for bulky goods. The proven OSR Shuttle™ system not only achieves up to six times the rate of totes in/out than a traditional ASRS, but also has about 20% less footprint and consumes only some 5% of the energy. According to Kevin Lewis, the OSR Shuttle™ is the most impressive part of the KNAPP solution. “We undertook extensive testing of the OSR,” he says, “and the speed, accuracy and reliability of the solution is quite remarkable.”

Intelligent conveyor system

From goods-in, fast-movers are transferred to the high-bay pallet store until required for replenishment of the pick-to-light flow racking. Bulky items are stored on one of two levels in the pick-to-belt area, from where they are transported directly to dispatch after picking. Slower-moving goods, meanwhile, are decanted into totes at goods-in and conveyed to the automated OSR Shuttle™ store. All orders except bulky goods are picked into cardboard cartons that are erected by three automated machines that produce boxes in smaller and larger footprints and in two heights. Order paperwork is automatically dispensed into each carton, a barcode label is applied and it is routed to the required picking areas by the intelligent conveyor system.

Pick-to-light fulfilment

The fast-moving goods in any individual order are picked first, according to pick-tolight displays. If slower-moving goods are also required, the order carton is then conveyed to one of five Pick-it-Easy goods-toperson picking stations served by the OSR Shuttle™ store. The system ensures that the required pick-from totes arrive at these ergonomic, pick-to-light workstations at the same time as the appropriate order cartons.

KNAPP’s proven OSR Shuttle™ storage system

Dispatch sorter

Completed order cartons are conveyed to a machine that automatically cuts each box down to a suitable height for the enclosed goods and applies a sealed lid. This minimizes the volume of consignments to ensure optimum use of space in the delivery vehicles. Dispatch labels are automatically applied to the cartons and they are conveyed to the mezzanine level via a spiral conveyor. Here, a sorter directs each box to the correct dispatch bay for loading into lorries.

Resident service team

In addition to awarding the contract for the supply of the intralogistics systems to KNAPP, Staples also engaged the company to provide a customer service package including the provision of a team of on-site KNAPP engineers. “Having the KNAPP team on hand has enabled us to maximize the availability of the material handling systems,” explains Kevin Lewis. “They are not only able to deal rapidly with any issues that arise but they also prevent problems from even appearing through their preventative maintenance routines.”


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