Pets at Home, the UK’s largest retailer of pet supplies, has signed a deal with Conveyor Networks to implement a £2.5m warehouse automation project at its eCom distribution centre in Northampton (‘SDC’).
Following trifold growth in eCom parcel volumes over the last 18 months, Pets At Home will use warehouse automation technology to drive efficiencies, achieve greater productivity and deliver real-time visibility across the operation, so it can continue to provide accurate deliveries to its customers. Once implemented the warehouse will be capable of supporting Pets At Home’s future expansion plans of 100 per cent growth in parcel volumes over the next five years.
Conveyor Networks will install an automated picking and packing system spanning three floors to transform Pets at Home’s second UK DC, which is responsible for fulfilment of online orders, including subscription based medicines. The system will include conveyor modules, packing machinery, automated label print and apply and intelligent routing and sorting. A key element of the solution is the software platform that will manage the interface between the PLC control system and the host WMS platform; imio software’s MFC module (Material Flow Control) controls the flow of data between both programs and will provide real time operational visibility and tracking capability. The software will be provided by Conveyor Networks’ associate business – imio Software Solutions Ltd.
The new system also complies with the company’s sustainable packaging policy, by using cardboard cartons rather than plastic bags.
Driven by pet owners’ demands for convenience and immediate availability, orders for the Pets at Home flea product subscription service are fulfilled through the Northampton DC, and following the implementation, will be capable of delivering far greater run rates and with a more robust validation process, so as to ensure accurate delivery.
According to Terry Siddle, director of logistics and distribution at Pets At Home: “Automating material flow and packing for our eCom and subscription based medicines is a priority following our recent growth. It’s vital that we can handle increasing orders and parcel volumes without causing compromise to our high customer delivery expectations. Conveyor Networks’ imio-MFC will give us control over all warehouse activity and provide real time visibility so we can track orders and keep our customers happy.”
Pets at Home’s DC developments support its multi-channel strategy embracing a ‘bricks and clicks’ approach. The company’s in-house fleet manages the majority of the retailer’s click and collect orders to store, whereas home deliveries are handled by external carriers. imio-MFC allows orders to be tracked and traced across all three of Pets At Home delivery channels.
As warehouse automation specialists, Conveyor Networks believes that DCs, like Pets at Home’s in Northampton, who process up to 50,000 orders per day, will struggle to meet growing volume demands without adequate automation. Marcus Uprichard, Sales and Marketing Director at Conveyor Networks adds “Our recent research has found that peak volumes are adding on average around 50% more parcels per day for retailers. Add in a growing customer expectation on delivery and this is putting pressure on warehousing and fulfilment. This system for Pets At Home is going to help them realise their enviable growth ambitions while allowing them to circumnavigate the traditional issues of extra resource required to facilitate such growth – especially at peak times.”
The £2.5million deal follows a project in 2017 that saw Conveyor Networks upgrade obsolescent controls at Pets At Home’s Stoke DC, which is responsible for distributing stock to its 450+ stores across the UK.