BS Handling Systems has successfully completed its biggest contract to date for the giant fashion etailer, ASOS; a complex 122 chute sortation system complete with eight diverter units, 13 camera scanner systems, four vehicle loading booms and 800m of belt conveyor incorporating 45 belt bends.

The multi-million pound project was designed, installed and commissioned within a strict eight month deadline, from order placement in March to a go-live date of Black Friday in November. Last year ASOS reported a 26% increase in retail sales to £1.4bn across its UK and international markets. It was this continued growth which prompted the requirement for increased sortation capacity at the company’s global fulfilment centre in Barnsley.

Installation of the new Interroll horizontal cross belt sorter and Intralox ARB diverters has enabled ASOS to double its throughput capacity whilst also increasing flexibility and resilience. Now parcels can be routed from the packing lines to either the new or existing sorters. This principle ensures there are no potential bottlenecks in the system, parcels and poly bags are in constant flow from pack bench to carrier trailer.

At peak sale time in November, the company was sending out up to 250,000 orders a day, whilst continuing to maintain its industry leading next-day delivery proposition.

Mike Kosciukiewicz, Senior Development Manager, ASOS Supply Chain, is clear why he selected BS Handling Systems to complete this most demanding of projects, “Fitting a new sortation system into our fulfilment centre, which already has an existing sorter and a high volume of 4m pitch mezzanine columns to be navigated around, was one of the biggest challenges of the project. If we could have started with a blank canvas it would have removed a lot of the complexity.

“To further complicate matters, our customers are now buying more items per order which has increased the size of our packages. These larger poly bags and parcels were too big for the existing sorter and were previously manually sorted, which was very labour intensive. Our new sortation system needed to be able to accommodate both the largest and smallest parcels.”

Kosciukiewicz continues, “When you looked at the proposed layout from BS Handling you could tell that they had really listened to what we were saying and understood what we were aiming to do. They were absolutely immersed in the design process with us, sharing ideas and being creative whilst also being realistic in terms of what would work operationally and the cost implications.

“In terms of what won it for them, it is their attention to detail and the fact that they are very customer focused and collaborative. They not only came back with the best design, but also with the shortest lead-time and a realistic price.”

In order to integrate the new sorter with the original system, BS Handling provided a solution which required breaking into each of the existing sorters eight conveyor feeds and introducing switching devices to divert the orders to either the new or existing sorter. This was achieved by using four single and four double Intralox ARB switching units which were installed on new mezzanine platforms.


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