Shimano's fused DCs offer improved results

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

shimano1 Shimano’s fishing managing director Colin Tannahill (L) with cycling managing director Matthew Bazzano. shimano1
shimano2 The layout of the Multishuttle and GTP system was designed with expansion in mind. shimano2
shimano3 Shimano’s administration, purchasing, finance, human resources and management functions are all under one roof. shimano3
shimano4 Dematic Multishuttle handles 208 totes per hour. shimano4
shimano5 (L-R) Shimano’s warehouse manager Anthony Cutler and Shimano’s logistics manager Maea Sio. shimano5
shimano6 The Multishuttle GTP workstation locates and identifies stock. shimano6
shimano7 Shimano Australia’s cycling and fishing businesses were merged in 2008. shimano7
shimano8 Shimano’s two businesses handle small cycling and fishing products, parts and components. shimano8
shimano9 Operating up to twice the speed of the first generation Multishuttle, the new system has significantly increased productivity and throughput. shimano9

The company took advantage of consolidation to upgrade its systems and infrastructure in a new DC


A new state-of-the-art distribution centre in Sydney featuring a new order fulfilment system and goods-to-person (GTP) workstations has seen cycling and fishing manufacturer Shimano efficiently sort, pack and distribute products to retailers following the merger of the two businesses.

The 2008 merger of Shimano Australia’s cycling and fishing businesses led the Japanese multinational manufacturer on a search for a central location in the hope to retain experienced staff.

Both businesses were operating in two smaller DCs in Sydney when a review of Shimano’s supply chain showed combining the distributions would be better for the business.

Shimano Australia fishing managing director Colin Tannahill says keeping the two businesses under one roof in an area where they were historically located led to a smoother transition.

"Land costs in the shire are significantly higher than in the western suburbs, however, such is the respect that Shimano has for our people – many of whom have been with the business for up to 25 years – that it was prepared to pay a premium to establish the new DC in the shire and ensure that it retained its experienced staff," Tannahill says.

"Bringing together not only our distribution requirements but also the administration, purchasing, finance, human resources and management functions for both businesses made it financially viable for Shimano to invest in a new state-of-the-art DC."

While the two businesses distribute a completely different range of products and service a diverse customer base, what they have in common is handling relatively small products, parts and components, Shimano Australia cycling managing director Matthew Bazzano says.

"When Shimano decided to review its Australian supply chain it was clear that both businesses would benefit by combining their distribution requirements," Bazzano says.

Increased productivity

A key feature of the new DC is its Dematic Multishuttle GTP order fulfilment system which sits on 50m2 with the GTP workstations and conveyor also taking up around the same amount of floor space.

The single aisle inventory storage buffer houses a total of 5,168 totes over 16 levels, with each level serviced by its own Multishuttle.

Operating up to twice the speed of the first generation Multishuttle, the new system has significantly increased productivity and throughput, Shimano’s logistics manager Maea Sio says.

Each tote can store one, two, four or eight stock keeping units (SKUs), where the Multishuttle system houses more than 4,600 SKUs.

The Dematic iQ Multishuttle system software is self-learning and stock locations are controlled on a dynamic basis.

Each time a SKU is retrieved the software examines it and puts away accordingly.

Fast-moving SKUs are stored towards the front of the system making the retrieval time quicker, with slower-moving SKUs stored towards the rear.

The Multishuttle system typically supplies around 208 totes per hour to a GTP workstation.

When stock is retrieved from the Multishuttle system, it is delivered to the GTP workstations as required for order assembly.

The Multishuttle system is serviced by two elevators – one feeding totes into the aisle and the other retrieving them, with each capable of handling two totes at a time, doubling the throughput for every cycle of the lift.

Totes required for orders or for replenishment are automatically conveyed to a series of three dual-function picking/put-away stations.

The Multishuttle system gives the company flexibility, Sio says.

 "Each of the three GTP workstations is dual purpose, which means we can use some for picking and others for replenishment, depending on what we need at the time," he says.

"The system was scoped to achieve between 220 to 350 picks per hour/workstation but we are often achieving significantly higher throughput rates than that in practice, with some operators achieving more than 600 picks per hour."

The Multishuttle GTP workstation configuration in which a single stock tote is presented to the operator together with six order cartons – three on either side of the workstation, cuts down on time that’s wasted on travelling.

It also locates and identifies stock and allows for multiple orders requiring the same SKU to be fulfilled concurrently.

Accurate order picking

When a tote arrives at the workstation a monitor displays an image of the SKU along with the quantity of items to be picked.

Pick-to-light displays at each of the six order locations display the number of items required for each order, eliminating any potential errors.

Staff work in parallel at the three workstations and are unaffected by each other’s space.

The workstations can be opened and closed as required on a particular shift and the orders can be processed at any location with all workstations operating independently.

Orders are typically launched at the GTP workstation where the operator simply pushes the carton onto a central takeaway conveyor.

Slower-moving split-case SKUs and goods not suitable for storage within the Multishuttle system are put aside on shelves or pallet racking.

After all the required units from the GTP system have been picked, the system’s integrated conveyor system transports them to other areas of the DC where any additional stock for the order are picked using the DC’s voice-directed picking system, and added to the order.

When all the split-case items for an order have been picked, the carton is conveyed through an in-line packaging system where the carton is void filled, sealed and labelled for dispatch.

The order is then conveyed to an eight-lane sortation system which sorts the carton to the appropriate shipping lane where it is palletised for despatch.

Integrated system software

Shimano runs on Pronto Warehouse Management System (WMS) which oversees all inventory management and stock movements, order management and replenishment requests to the GTP system.

The WMS is also responsible for SKU management including capturing of weight, dimensions and photographs of stock, which are displayed during the picking process at the GTP workstation to verify the correct product is being picked.

Dematic iQ’s WCS is responsible for all the picking in the DC including activities relating to the GTP system such as picking, replenishment, stock control and location management within the Multishuttle system.

It also controls the real-time flow of orders through the GTP workstations as well as voice-directed picking in the DC’s shelving and racking areas and flow of orders through the conveyor system to despatch.

Orders that require only GTP items (about 55 per cent) are released for picking as required, while those requiring GTP and part bulk (around 45 per cent) have the GTP portion released first when picking nears completion, with the bulk of requirements then released for picking.

The system solution provides full track and trace capabilities through Dematic iQ’s performance optimising software.

The system’s performance can also be viewed via computers, laptops and mobile devices.


The layout of the Multishuttle and GTP system was designed with expansion in mind, Shimano’s warehouse manager Anthony Cutler explains.

"Space has been reserved adjacent to the Multishuttle system for a future aisle, which would provide 50 per cent more storage capacity, together with additional GTP workstations to enable us to further increase throughput," Cutler says.

Such integrated technologies are not only cost-effective but can play a vital role in delivering reliable, timely and accurate order fulfilment for small to medium-sized businesses like Shimano, Dematic’s integrated systems director Pas Tomasiello says.

Shimano receives support from Dematic’s customer service division, which provides guaranteed response times, priority assistance and scheduled servicing. 

Read the full feature in this month's ATN.


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