OPTIMIZATION THROUGH GRADUAL AUTOMATION FOR ULTA BEAUTY
Prior to partnering with the Cirrus Tech, ULTA was picking products manually with printed pick lists. While they did have a WMS that handled the higher-level functions, the manual processes proved to cause a substantial loss of productivity, so much so that they were verging on slowing the growth of the company. In the ultra-competitive cosmetic and personal care market, ULTA was compelled to optimize their distribution process to offer optimal order quantities while providing a high service level and shorter delivery times.
ULTA’s challenges included:
- A substantial inventory of products
- Enormous variety of SKU’s to manage
- A rapidly growing number of retail stores
- Time-consuming manual processes
- Substantial number of orders per month
The collaboration with Cirrus Tech goes back to their first distribution center in Phoenix, AZ, when we provided processes, testing environments and training to transition day-to-day Warehouse IT operations to their internal IT department.
The success of this project resulted in a flawless and seamless transition and convinced ULTA to choose Cirrus Tech as a long-term partner to help the company increase the efficiency and the capacity of its warehouse step by step.
We started with a pick to light cart in order to maximize productivity and throughput. The second system was a “Cart” controlled process and a “Vertical Carousel” controlled process. The picking process starts with file downloads from the host SAP system. These are referred to as IDOCs or file interfaces. There are 3 types of IDOCs/interfaces: the Material master interface, the Delivery interface and the STOCK TOs (or Replenishment interface). We implemented a system that had to be optimized for the daily execution of orders from 30-40 stores and anywhere between 500 to 3000+ SKUs and several quantities for each one.
In order to organize the picking activities in the warehouse, the Cirrus WCS provides users with an interactive screen. Through this screen, users can set a batch state to “authorize”, “unauthorized” or “close”. After a batch is created, picking can be executed only after a batch is authorized. During this process the received deliveries are copied into a “Workqueue” table and are made available for picking. When users unauthorized or close a batch, the same items are deleted from the workqueue.
Picking through the vertical carousel channel is executed in a different area of the warehouse. All the information related to the vertical carousels is stored in a separated database on the server. Separate screens are also provided for this functionality. The main difference between the main flow and the carousel picking is that through vertical carousels, users can pick items for all the stores in the batch simultaneously.
The shipping sorters used at the two operating DCs feature a shoe-sorter in Phoenix and in Romeoville a belt sorter with pop-up wheels was implemented. Our Cirrus WCS assigns and directs sorter and collection instructions. ULTA uses “profile” based diverting, which means that, through the Cirrus WCS, they can define different store-to-lane assignments for different days of the week and store this information in the database.
Cirrus Tech designed the automated warehouse in several phases hand in hand with ULTA, in order to enhance the company’s potential, one advancement at a time.
By partnering with Cirrus, ULTA now has a comprehensive Warehouse Control System in place that they are able to manage internally and has shown real operational benefits by reducing cost, improving productivity and increasing shipping accuracy.
What was once a bogged down process of picking a single store at a time has improved with the addition of 6 Order Carts. Rather than picking the orders for one store, an operator can now pick for 6 stores at once with a cart that is designed to handle the load. And rather than a printed sheet of paper, the operators now use handheld scanners to check barcodes and place the correct product in the proper stores bin.
- Reduced operator walking by 25%
- Improved the order picking accuracy
- Improved order fulfillment rate
- Able to pick for up to 8 stores at a time rather than just one
- Ability to process and pick orders electronically
With the gravity-feed conveyor of the Cirrus Tech Crane System, it's just first in, first out...So it just eliminates all of the touching for about 70% of your product.
In terms of receiving, I don't have to carry a pallet 100 feet, 200 feet. It's just 20 feet away to getting input into our Cirrus Tech Crane System and I can input between three and four trailers at a time.
With Cirrus Tech we will receive product and put it in a rack location - it's in the system with one touch. The next time we touch it is for order building, and so we plan to take a minimum of four touches out of the process. That's where the efficiency is.
By choosing “The Crane” ASRS System from Cirrus Tech, we will gain efficiencies through our entire warehouse; how we receive, rotate and shuffle back stock, cycle count and replenish pick locations. The real surprise will be the efficiencies gained on the load building side. Cirrus Tech’s “Crane” and voice solutions will help us in all areas of the warehouse.
The Cirrus Tech Crane System provided our company an opportunity to consolidate an entire warehouse (Norfolk, NE) into the existing warehouse here in Fremont, NE. It will incorporate 5 years of growth while providing less than a 5 year ROI with the efficiencies of the system.
My picking with the Cirrus Tech Directed Picking solution is at least 3 times faster and more accurate than when our employees picked orders manually using a sheet of paper.
The Cirrus Tech Crane System not only saved us from doing a costly expansion, it also helped us organize our warehouse in a manner that put efficiencies in places that we would have never realized by building a new warehouse.
A major advantage of the Cirrus WMS is being able to know where all of the SKU’s are at any given time. This is especially helpful during crunch times when that rarely requested item would otherwise have to be hunted down in the warehouse. Now, the system instantaneously tells us where to find it.