Alan Penhale, supply chain director at Boots, is responsible for the supply chain of more than 2,300 stores in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
Alan's team also picks and packs orders for the health and beauty retailer's online business.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Boots and WITRON converted the processes in the pharmacy giant's main automated warehouse from store logistics to e-commerce logistics in just three weeks.
In addition to high performance, the Store Service Centre (SSC) in Nottingham demonstrated its ability to adapt to rapidly-changing conditions.
The SSC supplies millions of units a day for store delivery from a range of 37,000 different items, and now the SSC is also supporting Boots' online business.
Boots saw 150% more orders in its online business during the pandemic, and the challenge was to adapt to these rapidly increasing order numbers.
Part of the solution was the Store Service Centre (SSC) in Nottingham, designed and realised by WITRON.
Boots and WITRON have been working together successfully for more than ten years. The leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer is one of the largest in the UK.
"We have never experienced anything like that – transforming a logistics centre originally designed exclusively for store delivery into an omnichannel logistics centre at record speed," added vice-president of North-West Europe at WITRON, Jack Kuypers.
Dynamic Picking System (DPS) is the heart of the system, with 252 workstations in place.
A pick-by-light system supports the highly dynamic and automated picking of small parts in DPS.
The DPS works according to the goods-to-person and the person-to-goods principle. The items are arranged in the pick front either permanently or on-demand, based on the order structure.
The DPS supports different types of order picking: From tote into tote, pallet into tote, or tote into the shipping carton.
Regardless of the picking type, the picker is always guided by a pick-by-light system.
Large-volume items from the Boots assortment in the SSC are picked by radio data supported and route-optimised semi-automated Car Picking System (CPS) onto roll containers.
In total, Boots' associates in Nottingham pick almost three million units on a peak day.
Penhale stated, "Yes, people are shopping in stores again, but e-commerce will continue to grow. Cost-efficient and flexible omnichannel processes, as well as the supply of different distribution channels from one logistics centre will become a must-have.
"It is essential to align all logistics processes in the supply chain end-to-end to a holistic omnichannel structure. We are working on this together with WITRON."
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