Like many fast-growing businesses, TVH Parts Co. faced a space crunch a few years back. The company, which distributes spare parts for industrial trucks and agricultural vehicles, was experiencing runaway sales growth, which had led to a steep rise in the number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) it had to manage. Among other things, that meant it needed to find a way to squeeze more items into its North American headquarters and distribution center in Olathe, Kansas, which ships out more than 5,500 orders every day.
But that wasn't all the company was looking to do. In addition to maximizing storage, the spare-parts supplier was looking to automate its distribution operations, with an eye toward increasing throughput, reducing manual workflow, and preparing for the future.
"We decided to invest in a new [automated] system due to our fantastic growth in the number of SKUs we have to manage," said Rod Strickland, director of logistics at TVH, in a statement. "The main design criterion for us was flexibility. We wanted a solution that could handle not just the current growth but also our future growth."
MORE CAPACITY, BETTER SERVICE
For help, the company turned to Wels, Austria-based systems integrator TGW Logistics Group, which was working on a similar project at TVH's Waregem, Belgium, headquarters.
Working with TGW, the company chose for its Kansas DC a five-aisle shuttle system with 51,000 storage locations along with several goods-to-person picking workstations. The system was specifically engineered for ease of expansion: Not only can more of the modular workstations be added as volume ramps up, but the shuttle itself can easily be doubled to 10 aisles.
The Kansas facility's shuttle was designed in close coordination with the team designing the system at TVH's headquarters in Belgium. As a result, synergies between the two systems were utilized, both in plant design and the warehouse control system (WCS) interface, TGW says.
According to company leaders, the five-aisle shuttle system and the ergonomic goods-to-person workstations have now been integrated into the building and fit seamlessly into existing workflows. The result has been increased throughput with a reduction in manual processes. Among other benefits, this means TVH can now provide its customers with better service as well as extend its order-placement deadlines, they say.
"The TGW solution provides a large storage capacity within a small area—yet delivers the high throughput to meet our customer's demand," said Chad Zollman, chief sales officer at TGW USA, in the statement. "This solves for two of the largest issues faced in supply chain distribution by optimizing both space utilization through shuttle storage density and labor scarcity through elimination of manual workflows."