By using automated conveying, the Popken Fashion Group have rapidly accelerated their rate of returns processing, more than tripled the throughput capacity and increased productivity by around 30 percent. A modular conveyor platform MCP and the 24 volt RollerDrive from Interroll are the foundation of this solution.
All fashion articles by the traditional omnichannel Popken Fashion Group go through the company’s distribution centre in Rastede in northern Germany, which also functions as their logistics hub. This organisational unit ensures that the global flow of goods to the end customers, their own 650 stores and business partners runs quickly and smoothly. At the same time, the distribution centre also processes returns from customers who purchased their new outfits from catalogues or the online shop, as well as returns from outlets.
Returns management as a strategic success factor
An effective returns management has always been a strategic success factor for this fashion company, which has decades of experience in mail order trade and has had its own online shop since 1999. Facing the increasing demands of e-commerce, the logistics experts at the Popken Fashion Group developed an automated material flow solution which encompasses the processing of flat-packed goods from the arrival of the returned package through to when they can be newly prepared for distribution. The individual employees’ work stations and the automated packaging machines, which can package up to 3600 articles of clothing an hour, were connected via the modular conveyor platform from Interroll. Interroll RollerDrive power the belt and roller conveyors and are particularly quiet and energy efficient, as they are designed to work with 24 volt technology. The appropriate conveyor zones are powered separately and therefore enable a controlled flow of materials, free of accumulation pressure, when processing returns.
Modularity ensures flexibility
The flexibly-designed conveyor solution can handle all types of goods that need to be transported. Depending on the work step, packages, containers, textiles or even polybags can be seamlessly conveyed over belts or rollers through the returns processing area. Implementing a modular conveyor solution which could be reconfigured or expanded without problems in the case of changed demands and processes was important.
Before the new solution was installed during ongoing operation, the automated conveyor and packaging solution was extensively tested. Employees working in the returns processing area were actively involved in the specific design of their new working environment. In this way, important suggestions could be included.