LAC Logistics Automation zone pick, turn-key multi-floor order fulfilment and replenishment solution empowers Hachette to increase capacity and throughput.

Setting The Scene

Hachette UK Distribution (HUKD) is a prominent book distributor catering to various publishers. It operates from two sites in Didcot, UK, where it manages all stock receipts and customer order dispatches for its client publishers.

With rising demands, HUKD had to increase order fulfilment capacity and consolidate some operations into one larger warehouse, the Hely Hutchinson Centre (HHC). HUKD consulted LAC Logistics Automation to partner with them and support the growth transition.

The project comprised of a multi-tier zone picking solution across four mezzanine levels to manage a new order picking system for educational publishers. The objective of the system was to facilitate the pick solution and bulk handling for over 100K SKU’s together with delivering improvements in performance and efficiencies. The solution had to be delivered without disrupting live site operations and had to integrate with existing site facilities.

The Challenge

One of the key aspects of this project was relocating & integrating Hachette’s distribution and fulfilment operations into the new main HHC warehouse.

It involved the design and deployment of an end-to-end material handling system capable of handling totes & cartons. While synchronising with existing and new MHE (Mechanical Handling Equipment).

Hachette required a solution to integrate with existing operations across stock receipt, storage of long stocks, case and loose picking for replenishment and customer orders across a multi-tier mezzanine.

The Solution

The turn-key multi-floor order fulfilment & replenishment solution in the 240,000 square feet warehouse included multiple elements and subsystems to automate stock receipt, replenishment to zone picking and fulfilment. The solution was designed, simulated, and deployed to facilitate the picking and replenishment of all educational books, split across multiple publishers.

The system includes a network of about 500m of conveyors, mergers, diverts, pop-up transfers and scanning systems across the ground and four mezzanine levels. Two 18-meter spiral conveyors facilitate the vertical conveying between the levels and the ground floor.

The types of conveyors deployed include 24V DC powered roller and accumulation conveyor, belt conveyor and gravity roller conveyor. The system provides a comprehensive distribution service to more than 24 publishers with a total of 100,000 SKU’s.

The picking and replenishment were conducted using HUKD’s existing JDA warehouse management system (WMS). The several types of cartons, internal picking totes, outbound dispatch tote and replenishment trays are launched from the ground floor for respective functions in picking zones.

Zone sizes are optimised to elevate picking/replenishment performance, whilst minimising walking time. The replenishment and picking are conducted using voice solution integrated with the LAC system.

The system also integrates with existing operations including QC, weighing, and packing before routing completed orders to dispatch zones. Feeding empty cartons to picking location and returning internal replenishment trays back to the launch area are also included in the solution.

HUKD uses JDA WMS across their operations for full stock visibility, goods receipt, picking and returns management. LAC’s solution integrates seamlessly with both the WMS and WCS (Warehouse Control System) to achieve operational requirements. The electrical control system for the entire MHE solution also interfaces with WCS & WMS for complete visibility & control.

The Benefits

The solution helped transition smoothly into a new facility while streamlining and optimising the distribution process.

The solution provided increased throughput and optimised traffic management, sequencing, and picking. Working as a full-service systems integrator, LAC was able to manage the MHE requirements and integrate with other suppliers to successfully deliver the project on time and within budget.

Overall, the implementation of LAC’s solution has provided HUKD with the necessary tools to improve their warehouse efficiency, optimise their distribution process, and better serve their clients.


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