An efficient warehousing, logistics and trunking operation is crucial to NVS's success.
Jungheinrich has helped the UK's largest veterinary products wholesaler improve picking rates at its national distribution centre and reduced absenteeism at the site.
Founded in 1989, veterinary wholesaler NVS has over 460 employees and a marketshare in excess of 40% in the UK. The company offers 18,000 product lines: everything that vets use on a day-to-day basis from washing up liquid and cans of soft drink to flea powder, pharmaceuticals and controlled drugs. NVS delivers daily to around 1,950 vets' practices in the UK.
An efficient warehousing, logistics and trunking operation is crucial to NVS's success and the company's UK supply chain model is based on a national distribution centre (NDC) near Stoke-on-Trent, which feeds nine smaller hubs strategically located from Larkhall to Tiverton.
"With the growth of the business, we needed to look at capacities within the warehousing operation," says Danny Roberts, NVS's Logistics Manager. "We recognised the bulk warehouse as an area that could be improved from an efficiency perspective. Jungheinrich helped us to develop and implement a plan to achieve this."
Roberts joined the company two years ago, at a time when available storage space at the NDC was dwindling rapidly, and plans to source additional space to cope with the overflow were being reviewed.
He found that the pallet racking within the company's bulk store, where full pallet-loads of larger items and slower moving lines are held, featured bays of an identical height and width. The weak design resulted in a lot of wasted space and severely restricted the number of picking locations available at ground and first-tier levels.
Orders were also being picked by staff directly into roll cages, which they manually pulled from one picking location to the next. After investigation and analysis, the results showed that during a typical shift, a worker employed to pick orders in the bulk store could walk eight kilometres (5 mi.) and might have to pull a load weighing up to 500 kg (1,102lb.).
With help from Jungheinrich UK Ltd's Systems & Projects Division, Roberts undertook an extensive stock profiling process before re-engineering the existing racking to offer different beam heights throughout the store based on the dimensions of the palletised loads stored. An additional 200 pallet locations were created this way.
Picking efficiency was further increased with the introduction of Jungheinrich high- and low-level order pickers.
The low-level order pickers have reduced the need for manual handling and have resulted in faster throughput. In some cases, staff are now picking up to 33% quicker than they were using the manual system.
Jungheinrich also supplied NVS with a fleet of 12 EKS 110 medium-level order pickers and two high-level EKS 210 order pickers.
NVS estimates that its payback on the investment in new trucks and reconfigured pallet racking will be less than three years.