3PL : Doubling Throughput for Pre-Packaged Goods

A 3PL fulfilling orders for a large home improvement retailer was struggling with their processes due to rising labor costs, high turnover, and increased demand from online orders. Order volume ranged from 5,000 orders per day during most of the year to 10,000 orders per day during peak season. Wanting to focus on retaining their existing labor force, the 3PL needed to add automation to their manual processes to improve efficiency and accuracy and to relocate their operators from areas of mundane tasks to more dynamic areas of the facility.

The products sold by this company came pre-packed so operators were required to manually take printed documentation (containing the invoice, packing list and shipping label), fold them and put them into adhesive pouches that were applied to the outside of each box. Once the package was properly labelled, the operators needed to walk the packages over to the correct area of the shipping dock, depending on the destination. It would take 1-2 minutes per order, so the operators on both shifts often needed to work overtime to fulfill the required number of orders each day.

An Automated Print on Demand Solution

In speaking with the PSI team, the 3PL management decided that the Autoslip, in conjunction with conveyors and automated sortation, would be the right fit for this operation’s documentation needs. This new process allowed the operators to wave pick orders, place them onto the conveyor that would lead to the PSI Autoslip. The Autoslip would print, fold, and pouch the documentation then apply the adhesive pouch onto the top of the carton. Downstream from the Autoslip, a scanner would scan the barcode and the carton would be sorted to a different area of the shipping dock, depending on the destination.

This process drastically improved the facility’s process – increasing throughput to 15 orders per minute. This rate allowed for all non-peak orders to be completed during one 8-hour shift and was more than enough to handle peak demand on two shifts without overtime.

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