Toolbank (Widnes) Interfloor fulfilment centre
Toolbank, Regional Branch in Widnes.
Toolbank are one of Europe’s leading specialist distributors of hand and power tools, in association with many of the leading independent DIY retailers and the world’s leading manufacturers.
CSL have worked with Toolbank at 5 of their units over the last 10 years.
Under Toolbank’s expansion programme it was decided they needed to increase the size of their existing operation in the North West as well as centralise the regions depot, which has resulted in the building of a new 34,000 sq ft warehouse in Widnes.
The site was to feature a bulk store area and a multi floor pick and store area. The system needed to deal with a wide range of order sizes ranging from single totes up to multiple tote orders, along with separating work streams for B2C packing.
The system also needed to represent value for money and allow for future expansions.
CSL designed the system around a tried and tested interfloor conveyor range to transit product through multi-level mezzanine floors, which has been reproduced in a similar style in 3 other Toolbank sites. The automation project spanned a 2 level mezzanine, 3.7m & 7.3m H respectively, plus the ground floor area.
The pick areas are conducted from 1st floor and the ground floor. The 2nd floor is for future expansion with no current automation.
Orders which can be completed solely on the 1st floor once completed are placed onto a dedicated conveyor line, running adjacent to the edge of the mezzanine and marries up with an Ambaflex Spiral, which subsequently delivers these to the ground floor. The completed orders from the ground floor are placed onto a secondary feed powered roller conveyor. With an effective controls ethos to gate and release in turn, the product from the ground floor merges effortlessly with products that started out on the 1st floor and have exited from the spiral at ground floor level.
Orders which require items from both pick floors or are larger than a 1 tote orders are placed in different coloured totes ready for sortation.
After the 2 lines are merged the totes pass through a contrast scanner which sorts the totes by colour, one colour contains multiple tote orders and the other is made up from single tote orders. The multi tote orders are sent straight through to the main line with single orders dispersed between the multi tote orders on the same line. A third colour for B2C orders that require a more robust packaging practice are diverted off to a secondary line using a high speed switch sorter.
CSL employed Zero Line Pressure (ZLP) 24v motorised roller technology for the end of line conveyor, which provided a controlled delivery of the full totes and enhanced the ergonomics for the operators removing these from the line.
CSL worked closely with the mezzanine floor supplier to ensure the system could be future proof and easily expanded.
A Toolbank spokesperson commented ‘the new conveyor system will make picking and dispatching orders more streamlined ensuring we can deal with higher demands/peaks, whilst also providing a very compact and space saving solution. Toolbank have worked with CSL on numerous projects and found the process from concept to installation and beyond a smooth and professional experience”