Computers Unlimited is Europe’s leading distributor of Apple accessories and represents more than 100 vendors with 3,000 resellers throughout Europe.
The UK warehouse facility in Radlett, Herts was opened in 2006 to service the needs of the UK market which at the time was predominantly pallet and bulk movements. However, since the facility was opened Computers Unlimited has seen significant sales growth, and an increasing change in their order profiles from B2B professional products to mixed orders of more consumer focused products.
This change in the order profiles, coupled with increases in sales, resulted in the facility becoming congested. Cubic utilisation of racking was reduced to 60%, packing stations were insufficient, and floor space was increasingly constrained for ancillary activities such as product reconfiguration.
Computers Unlimited selected Gideon Hillman Consulting to undertake a total review of their warehouse operations with the specific objective of reconfiguring the existing facility to reflect the order profiles, whilst reducing operating costs and providing capacity for growth.
“We chose the Gideon Hillman Consulting team based on their reputation and proven track record in warehouse design and optimisation” commented Mark Rennie, Operations & IT Director, “they took care to listen and understand our business needs and reconfirm those needs back to us before pitching solutions. This approach stood them apart from other consultancies we spoke with.”
The consulting team firstly established the baseline metrics of the current operation to provide a benchmark against each optimised solution to be considered. Using supporting data the team then modelled a series of potential solutions against the business profile and existing site. These solutions included wide-aisle racking with carton shelving, wide-aisle racking with vertical carousels and also wide-aisle racking with horizontal carousels. With each option the layout and location of each functional area (packing, RMA, goods-in, despatch etc.) were also redesigned to ensure the work-flow was fully optimised, with inefficient movement reduced and safety maximised.
Each option was designed, with a full assessment of operating and capital costs, and compared back to the baseline metrics of the current operation. All options were then presented to the Computers Unlimited management team, with a full rationale of the logic and benefits. Once the final solution had been agreed, the Gideon Hillman Consulting team then worked to provide detailed CAD drawings, along with SOPs, WMS functionality requirements and an implementation plan.
“We were really impressed with the clarity and scope of options presented to us by the consulting team” commented Mark “we decided to utilise horizontal carousels and wide-aisle racking as this option provided a quick ROI through significantly reduced operating costs, but also increased our storage area 3-fold. The result of this meant we could easily accommodate our existing requirements, and have significant space available to accommodate our growth targets”.