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- Ferag shortens access times on the Skyfall pouch sorter
Ferag shortens access times on the Skyfall pouch sorter
Skyfall-based pouch sorters have proven a scalable, flexible solution for omnichannel order processing. As a result, they are currently benefiting in particular from the continued boom in online business, such as that seen in the fashion and clothing industry. An increasing number of retailers and logistics companies require an efficient system that supports both distribution to shops and the direct processing of online orders from a single distribution centre, in addition to being able to deal with returns management. Pouches have a range of benefits as a load carrier here as a wide range of different goods can be transported, buffered and sorted precisely in sequence. In the fashion segment in particular, the Skyfall solution can be used to combine a wide variety of both folded goods in pouches and garments on hangers (GOH) within a single system. The performance displayed here is impressive. For example, the Skyfall system installed two years ago at the Spanish children’s fashion provider Mayoral achieves an output of up to 12,000 units per hour – to the full satisfaction of the customer.
Pouches offer high levels of flexibility as a load carrier
A Skyfall pouch can be used to transport several products belonging to the same order. The only limitation is the prescribed maximum weight of ten kilograms per load carrier. If an order should exceed the pouch volume, several pouches can be joined together electronically into a unit. At the same time, the Skyfall sorting technology allows for freely combinable batches that can be called up precisely in the defined sequence and assigned to a specific distribution channel. This means that particularly urgent orders originating from the shop distribution channel or those with a higher customer priority can be handled first. Furthermore, a Skyfall system is also able to feed in or eject goods according to their origin, distribution channel or intended destination. In this way, online orders end up on a packing table for individual handling in preparation for mailing. In contrast, goods that are to be transported in larger volumes to a shop by lorry are sent to a terminal, where they can then be sorted by shop and according to the customer order. The goods can even be loaded in exactly the order they are delivered and then stacked on the shelves at the shop in question.
Faster access thanks to constantly rotating circulating buffers
What’s special about the Skyfall principle is that the logistic processes that a system of this type executes with the help of a high-performance matrix sorter and numerous buffer lines are similar to a dynamic collecting circuit. Strictly speaking, the goods are not stored at all, but instead parked in a large buffer until they are called. The Ferag engineers have now focused on this area in order to further optimize the system. The U-turn switches, which will be offered by Ferag on future projects as an optional feature on the buffer lines, allow for individual hangers to be turned 180 degrees. The resulting constant circulation of the pouch carriers within a buffer section results in a further shortening of the already impressive access times. The individual buffer lines are thus transformed into circulating buffers that are constantly in motion. In addition to shorter access times, this innovation also allows for improved utilization of the available storage space. The installation of a Skyfall system with U-turn switches has led to space savings of 20 percent at the new distribution centre at American retailer Dillard’s, which is currently under construction in Maumelle near Little Rock, Arkansas. Speaking of space saving, the newly developed conveyor for the horizontal buffering of Skyfall pouches is the perfect solution for warehouses where every centimetre of space is critical.
The future of automation – dark warehouses
Customers who opt for Skyfall are ideally prepared for the future, including those customers with the long-term aim of establishing dark warehouses. This is because the technology from Switzerland’s Zürcher Oberland can be used to fully automate the entire sorting and order picking process. Even the loading and unloading of the Skyfall pouches can be made entirely without manual intervention. Ferag has designed the pouches in such a way that the goods are kept safe across all stations and that gentle handling of products is guaranteed. As a result, not only items of clothing, fashion accessories and shoes can be stored and transported in the pouches, but also highly sensitive products such as electronic components, small household appliances and perfume bottles. With this in mind, the Skyfall pouch sorter can even be used at e-commerce companies that not only offer fashion items, but also a wide range of other products. In order to ensure the lights go out at warehouses sometime in the future, Ferag is also working on other solutions for even better connection of the Skyfall system to upstream and downstream areas with the help of DTS, robots and other technologies in line with Logistics 4.0.