On the 19th of October, Tarsus Distribution’s went live with a new automation system that’s set to bring new levels of efficiency and accuracy to the warehouse. The project was undertaken in tandem with RTT and JDG.
The Outbound Streamline (OBS) Order Automation Solution will help shorten the time taken to process an order from the moment it is placed by the sales team to the moment it is released for delivery.
“The automation project is yet another example of how the collaboration between Tarsus Distribution and RTT is driving us both into a new era of best-in-class Supply Chain services,” says Tim Proome, Supply Chain Executive at Tarsus Distribution.
On the Cutting Edge
The main idea behind OBS it is to introduce cutting-edge automation systems into the warehouse which do more than just move products from point to point.
It’s designed to give Tarsus Distribution the ability to more closely monitor the entire product procurement process from order to delivery, it integrates with courier systems to provide greater oversight when it comes to logistics, and it ensures accurate and predictable billing.
“Tarsus Distribution has a view of becoming the leader in Supply Chain innovation in the ICT industry, not only in South Africa but internationally. The automation project is but one of many projects we have implemented in the past two years with that in mind, ” adds Proome.
“The conveyors will assist us in terms of speed, accuracy and scalability as we drive more 3PL customers through our facility, as well as readying ourselves for the future growth of our current 3PL clients,” he says.
The new system is comprised of conveyor belts, smart software, and sensors. The belts themselves use an in-line scale and a dimensioner to weigh and measure individual items, or, in the project’s terms, capture each package’s System Weight and Dimensions (SWAD), and sort and monitor parcels accordingly.
The in-line weigh scale is so accurate, it can pick up discrepancies as small as 5g. This enables the system to automatically sort packages based on their dimensions and reject packages whose measured weights don’t match up with their expected weight.
Packages that are rejected go onto a special “rejection chute”; this way, errors can be quickly flagged up and addressed so that customers get the correct and expected package. Packages going through the OBS Order Automation Solution will be rejected if they are outside of the weight tolerance.
Improved Logistics and Billing
Logistics and billing, which can be a source of friction between distributors and couriers, are both addressed by the fact that the warehouse’s new advanced systems are linked to the systems of Tarsus Distribution’s courier partners.
Couriers bill according to each package’s SWAD, and since the system makes sure that SWADs are accurate to within 5g and that data is shared, billing gets the precision it needs to help the business with its goals.
Better oversight and security
Security and accountability were also prioritised with this rollout. The warehouse has been equipped with several new security cameras, positioned right over the conveyor belt system, that lets Tarsus Distribution keep a close eye on everything that goes on.
That way, should a customer have a query about a specific package – it arrived damaged, for example – warehouse workers can go back to its recorded footage of that specific package to see what state it was in when it left the warehouse. Neat!
Anyone who’s worked in a warehouse environment knows how much of a bother labels can be, and how customers aren’t interested in seeing three different labels from three different departments on their packages.
The OBS Order Automation Solution nips that squarely in the bud, generating just one label for the entire picking, packing, and shipping process that will delight customers with its elegance and simplicity. It can even customise labels to a specific customer’s requirements, all without a fuss.
“At the JD Group, we are continuously innovating with the prime goal of enhancing our customers’ experience, throughout their shopping journey,” says Stefan Marnewick CFO of Incredible Connection at JDG.
“A great customer experience and service are key differentiators in the globalised competitive landscape we find ourselves in. As such, we are excited about the capabilities and opportunities that the new automation system will enable in order to drive this experience.”
The OBS Order Automation Solution also boosts the total output capacity of the warehouse. This new system has the ability to process 1500 containers per hour. That is more than the number of containers processed by Tarsus in a day, so there’s good room for growth.
Proome continues: “Out of all of the projects we have implemented this is the one that people have gotten extremely excited about. The speed of the conveyors means that we have the ability to double our outbound capacity without adding more people to the process.
“We have halved the number of labels used in the outbound process, integrated with our courier partners, created automated invoice printing as well as the ability to consolidate multiple boxes on the Courier floor instead of in the warehouse.
”All of these changes mean we spend less money in getting faster turnaround times, increased accuracy and happier customers,” Proome says.
To sum up, this new automation system brings:
- Increased throughput & efficiency
- Smarter labeling
- Improved billing accuracy
- Security and accountability
- Reduced risk
“The project has forced changes to the courier floor at Tarsus Woodmead both mechanically and systematically. These enhancements will turn into an amazing customer experience for both B2B and B2C customers of Tarsus Distribution,” concludes Proome.