What is a business to do when customer demand exceeds inventory and shippingcapabilities? Expand.
The Orlando-based resort division of Jerry Leigh of California (Van Nuys, Calif.), manufactures and distributes licensed apparel, souvenirs and accessories for theme parks and movie studios like Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. and Marvel.
"Over the last decade, Jerry Leigh's Resort Division has experienced exponential growth," says Tim Purdy, divisional vice president. "These increases put enormous pressure on Jerry Leigh to fulfill the mounting number of orders arriving daily."
Originally occupying a 10,000 sq.-ft. warehouse, in 2005 the company built a new, 80,000 sq.-ft. distribution center, with 10 shipping and receiving docks and 10,000 sq.ft. of office space. The aim of the new building, explains Purdy, "is not only to provide faster service, but to handle increased business without significantly increasing resource costs."
To ensure effective optimization of its new space, Jerry Leigh looked to Tampa, Fla.-based Florida Lift Systems (FLS), a supplier of warehouse products, lift trucks and material handling equipment, to provide an integrated material handling solution. FLS worked closely with Jerry Leigh to design the most efficient warehouse configuration.
"It is always good to get in on the ground floor," says Jeff Fischer, owner of Florida Lift Systems. " Before it is up, you can do a whole lot more to help the customer get the optimum design than if you are designing around what somebody else thought was a good idea."
After analyzing Jerry Leigh's business, FLS developed a warehouse design, logistics and reconfiguration strategy to move the company from a manual to an automated facility. FLS maximized Jerry Leigh's storage capacity and improved its bar code tracking and inventory rotation. It designed, built and installed advanced racking systems and shelving. Pallet and carton sizes were matched with storage locations, says Jeff Strickland, FLS' manager of warehouse products group. A pick-and-pack locator system is used for stock putaway and stock retrieval. Overall the changes and upgrades resulted in a facility that is 20% more efficient.
Orders are generated by Jerry Leigh's 100 salesmen using electronic ordering pads that show pictures of the inventory. Once a day, the orders are batched, put on pick tickets and sent to the warehouse. Each item appears on the pick ticket by location and quantity. Orders are picked by pickers with pull carts or lift trucks, and are accumulated and sorted by destination. Gravity conveyors move the orders to a four-lane processing area where tickets, hangers and special labels are applied. The orders are then scanned, automatically invoiced and shipped.
FLS also assessed the equipment needs for operating the DC and provided a fleet of electric Toyota lifts trucks and battery equipment. Purdy doubled the size of his fleet, which includes reach trucks, orderpicker trucks, three-wheel walkie pallet trucks and sit-down rider trucks. He also purchased the new fleet because it was a better investment than renting, and he has a serve and maintenance contract with FLS.
Because the Orlando facility has high employee turnover—50% of its workforce is temporary—Purdy uses an employment agency to keep his staff level at 120. FLS trains Jerry Leigh's equipment operators. The company normally runs one shift, but uses a double shift during its busy season from May to August.
The timeline for this project was tight. In eight months, the DC went from concept to loading racks. "I had to move one-and-a-half to two million units from building A to building B," Purdy says. During the move, he had to keep both buildings running. FLS assisted in getting all of the permits. "It worked like clockwork," he recalls.
The new DC is achieving its goals. The company moved six million items through the facility last year. What's more, while revenues have grown 20%, overall operating expenses have only risen 3%, Purdy reports.
AT A GLANCE
Jerry Leigh Resort Division, Orlando
Pickers fill orders using lift trucks or pull carts. Orders are then accumulated and sorted by destination.