IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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AS Colour to upgrade Melbourne centre with advanced automation system
Wed, 31st Jan 2024

Leading global apparel wholesaler and retailer AS Colour is set to transform its Melbourne distribution centre (DC) with an advanced automation system featuring a Dematic Multishuttle goods-to-person (GTP) solution. This follows the success of a similar system deployed at AS Colour's New Zealand headquarters. The company commenced in New Zealand in 2005 and currently operates five distribution centres across Auckland, Melbourne, Los Angeles, North Carolina, and Leighton Buzzard, UK, along with 25 retail stores.

Lawrence Railton, Managing Director of AS Colour, spoke of the long-term partnership the firm has formed with automation solutions provider Dematic, contributing to AS Colour's global growth. "We're excited to again partner with Dematic on the Melbourne chapter of our automation," he said. The Dematic system, which features high-density tote storage and sequenced order picking, can handle a range of order sizes across its platform.

The planned Multishuttle at the Melbourne DC will be 18 levels high and span four aisles, accommodating over 55,000 totes. A significant capacity buffer has been built-in for future growth prospects. The system retrieves and delivers product and order totes in the exact sequential order to GTP picking workstations, allowing efficient and accurate order picking.

The system will also manage up to 1,500 product totes per hour across five GTP picking workstations, equating to 300 product totes per hour for each independent picking workstation. After orders are completed at the GTP stations, they will be held within the Dematic Multishuttle, then released and moved to the packing sorter in precise order to ensure efficient packing.

This GTP system will be approximately twice the size of the one at AS Colour's Auckland DC. Railton attributed their shift towards newer automated facilities to the company's significant growth and the necessity of meeting rising demand. "Rising demand led us to building a brand-new facility with the focus on automation," Railton explained.

Dematic’s Multishuttle GTP solution has previously proven successful in AS Colour’s Auckland facility where it increased throughput per worker by 344%. This resulted in a sharp decline in labour costs and a substantial rise in order accuracy, leading to fewer customer returns and high client satisfaction. Orders can be picked within 30 minutes of being received and out the door within a few hours.

"The Dematic Multishuttle GTP solution has been a game changer for our business, and we've actually seen a big increase in sales in New Zealand – our customers can see how quickly and accurately we get their orders to them," Railton emphasised. Furthermore, the adoption of the Dematic system enabled AS Colour to accomplish its goal of eliminating single-use plastic from its supply chain, by allowing them to store the product loose and unpackaged.

Dematic's Business Development Manager, Seth van Dijk, elaborated on this, stating that what's unique about AS Colour’s approach is that they store the product loose and unpackaged within totes which is more sustainable as the Dematic solution aids in keeping products in pristine conditions.