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Application: Distribution of pump, compressor and blower parts as spare parts to end users and as assembly parts to feed manufacturing.
Equipment: Two pods of five Horizontal Carousels double stacked with inventory management Software (Sedalia). One pod of four horizontal carousels with inventory management Software (Quincy).
Summary: Using three horizontal carousel pods Gardner Denver has increased picking productivity by 100% with a 50% reduction in Labor Hours.
For any large industrial manufacturer consolidating one facility into two existing facilities is challenging enough, but Gardner Denver increased picking productivity by 100%, reduced labor hours by 50% and cut inventory levels in half without missing a logistics beat!
Gardner Denver has been building large pumps, compressors and blowers for industrial use over the last 150 years. Products and engineered solutions are sold through multi-channel, worldwide distribution systems and are used for applications in virtually every market sector, ranging from industrial movement to environmental processes, to healthcare applications and energy production.
Following a new distribution model, Gardner Denver maintained a dedicated aftermarket distribution warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee which handled aftermarket parts fulfillment for the domestic manufactured compressor, blower and pump products. The company would manufacture aftermarket parts in other plants and then ships the parts to Memphis where they would be inventoried and then sent out to customers.
The decision was made to move the aftermarket parts fulfillment to the plants that were responsible for manufacturing those products, and to close the Memphis DC. This was essentially a change in the company’s distribution model - Gardner Denver determined that they could reduce inventory costs significantly by combining the aftermarket parts fulfillment with the production warehousing at two of the company’s manufacturing facilities.
The two plants designated to absorb the Memphis DC aftermarket inventory and distribution activities were the company’s Sedalia, Missouri facility and Quincy, Illinois facility. Both were exclusively production plants, Sedalia manufacturing rotary screw and industrial blowers, and Quincy manufacturing reciprocating compressors and pump products.
Each of the plants already maintained a warehouse for supplying parts needed for assembly. The challenge was to expand the current plants to handle both assembly parts inventory and aftermarket parts warehousing and distribution within the same system.
“KardexRemstar visited the Sedalia and Quincy locations and saw what we were doing, and what our vision was,” says Dean Chew, Aftermarket Director with Gardner Denver. “They came back to us with a complete solution, a comprehensive plan. From the pick system carousels to the conveyers, the interface software between the conveyors and the carousels, the warehouse management system and the integration with our enterprise resource planning system, this was a turnkey project.”
“The time frame to deliver the project was extremely short.” Chew explains. “What would normally have been a six- or seven-month project, we did in four months. These were really incredibly short time frames.”
Transitioning to an Integrated Warehouse
The picking systems put into place at the Gardner Denver plants needed to serve two purposes: the distribution of spare parts to end users; and the assembly of pick kits to feed the manufacturing floors. Quincy, the smaller of the two systems, handles approximately 5,000 SKUs between its manufacturing and aftermarket parts requirements. For this operation Gardner Denver implemented one pod consisting of four horizontal carousels. Sedalia supplies roughly 75,000 different parts for their manufacturing and aftermarket requirements. To accomplish this they implemented two pods of five horizontal carousels each supported by a double-tiered mezzanine – one pod of five carousels above and one pod of five carousels below.
“In our Sedalia and Quincy plants we now simultaneously do the functions of aftermarket fulfillment and production floor kitting that we did separately before.” says Chew. “The production line needs parts to build a compressor or blower, they enter an order which goes into the carousel, it gets picked and put on a tote, then conveyed down to a workstation on the production line where those components are assembled into a product. For aftermarket, the parts get picked, put into a tote and conveyed on a different line out to shipping. Both are the same process of filling the order with similar parts, except they go down separate conveying spurs to different end points.”
Matching Labor with Throughput Requirements
Each carousel pod can be adjusted to accommodate activity levels using flexi-pod configuration. During the highest throughput mode, the ten carousels can be configured into four pods; two pods upstairs and two pods downstairs with each pod requiring an operator. In the lowest throughput mode, the ten carousels can be configured into two pods of five carousels with one operator working upstairs and one operator working downstairs. Using the flexi-pod system the supervisor determines the amount needed for any throughput and can configure the carousels accordingly based on available labor levels and or demand.
Zone Batch Picking & Consolidation
Multiple orders are positioned below an LED display. All of the orders are automatically downloaded, so when an operator begins the batch picking process, the software shows the first available pick. The carousels automatically pre-position the product to be picked. The light indicates each product to be picked, identifying the total quantity to be picked to fill all orders in the batch. The picker then goes to the next carousel, which is already in position and continues the process.
When all parts from a zone have been picked for an order, the tote is pushed onto a circular conveyor where it waits for parts to arrive from other pick zones. Once all of the parts have arrived from each zone the order is complete and all of the totes are automatically routed via conveyor to a shipping lane.
“The whole system is quite automated,” Chew continues. “The coordination of order fulfillment is remarkable - parts are put in totes, at each workspace and routed to consolidation. When an order has been completed the system will automatically consolidate those totes and then send them down a single lane for order processing.”
Streamlining to Gain Efficiency
Integrating the KardexRemstar horizontal carousels, pick-to-light technology and the flexi-pod configuration has significantly enhanced the speed of Gardner Denver’s entire inventory management process. They can now process inventory in half the time, with a 50 percent reduction in labor hours needed to do the same tasks.
But more importantly, with the company’s new distribution model they are no longer maintaining a dedicated aftermarket warehouse with thousands of SKUs of duplicate inventory. The new combined production/aftermarket inventory and distribution system has streamlined Gardner Denver’s DC operating costs.