Belgium: 3 PL Provider Soditra Logistic doubles its use of Scallog robots
Nanterre, 23 March 2021 – Core to its strategy of innovating to differentiate itself and attract new clients, Belgian 3PL company Soditra-Logistic – spurred on by the success of its first project with Scallog – doubled the size of its goods-to-person picking facility in spring 2020. The Scallog robotized solution is enabling Soditra-Logistic to support the growth of its retail order fulfilment offering whilst clearly differentiating itself as a leader in the field, attracting significant new clients such as Nyx and leading online organic retailer Greenweez. Here is what Jean-Luc Waetermans, Business Development Director at Soditra-Logistic’s Nivelles site has to say: “The Scallog solution is playing a major role in the successful implementation of the transformation plan across our group of companies. In fact, it’s really helping us to attract new clients, increase the diversity of our offerings and ensure that our growth is sustainable. We believe that we have invested not just in equipment but rather in a vital lever for our future growth.”
Innovation: the key to Soditra-Logistic’s future success
Soditra-Logistic, a 3PL or Third Party Logistics service provider and expert in Supply Chain services established in 1967, is a subsidiary of Belgian group SD. From its two platforms, one in Mollem (18,200m²) and the other in Nivelles (16,800 m²), the company offers a wide range of high-added-value logistics services from storage to order picking, assembly, co-packing, fulfilment and transport. Success in this sector will come from a service provider’s ability to offer an ever-increasing portfolio of services, all efficiently delivered.
In line with this imperative, Soditra-Logistic is focusing on its Nivelles platform to expand it services into new sectors. This platform is able to provide warehousing and storage in a variety of environments (heterogenous, standard, and retail) under various temperature conditions. Its range of picking methods for different product flows, coupled with Scallog’s robotized goods-to-person system, has already proved attractive to new clients.
Jean-Luc Waetermans enthuses: “Our two sites currently generate a combined turnover of €20m, 10% of which is in e-commerce logistics, a future driver of growth for our company. We plan to expand our Nivelles e-commerce warehouse by 10,000 m² in 2021 and achieve a turnover of €40m.”
Accelerating truly reliable order picking capability
Of the millions of picking operations performed every year at the Nivelles platform, 45% are for retail orders. These operations require time and effort from operators, cost more compared to moving pallets, and require “zero-error” picking accuracy. On top of this, there are a number of challenges such as seasonal ebbs and flows, managing peak periods, fulfilling online client commitments and the increasingly perishable nature of the products handled. It will be Soditra-Logistic’s ability to not just meet but to exceed these challenges – particularly in the picking of retail orders – that will ensure its growth and success.
Of vital importance however, is the necessity of reconciling increased productivity with less labour-intensive work by operators. Acting on this imperative in 2018, Soditra-Logistic chose to automate its processes and selected the Scallog robotized goods-to-person warehousing and order picking solution. In the words of Jean-Luc Waetermans: “In addition to the highly scalable nature of the Scallog system, we were really impressed at how innovative and user-friendly its solutions are. From the robots themselves to the order picking workstations, Scallog has given us the ability to handle a wide range of products, including those that are extremely fragile and delicate.”
The Scallog Starter Kit was up and running on the Nivelles platform in February 2019, less than four months after its selection. The initial results were highly encouraging and, in May 2020, a new contract with Greenweez saw Soditra-Logistic double its Scallog goods-to-person installation. The scalability of the solution was proven by the ease with which a further 600 m² of warehousing and 12 Boby robots that transport 148 shelf units in five different configurations to four user-friendly workstations were added. Jean-Luc Waetermans enthuses: “We were really pleased with the range, quality, scalability, user-friendliness and autonomous operation of the Scallog solution and were confident in migrating to it – and delighted with the increase in productivity and accuracy!”.
Automating processes to boost productivity and reduce labour intensiveness
From cosmetics to healthcare products from a number of pharmaceutical companies, Soditra-Logistic stocks over 5,000 hugely diverse class B and C items (medium- and low-turnover). Following the expansion last May, the Scallog zone now accommodates an additional 3,000 of these items. Operating in shifts from 6.00am to 10.00pm, two teams of operators deliver a fast, efficient, reliable and accurate service, benefiting clients and Soditra-Logistic alike! For Soditra-Logistic, there have been:
A 30 to 50% gain in storage capacity, depending on the type of product – Scallog’s automated storage system enables Soditra-Logistic to combine products for several clients in a single zone, as opposed to having to use one zone for each client. As a result, the 3PL provider can now store 8,000 items across 600 m² rather than the 1,000 m² previously required,
A 40 to 45% gain in productivity – With the Scallog robotic solution, Soditra-Logistic has significantly shortened its order picking times, achieving up to 450 picks per hour in intensive mode. A Scallog workstation enables a single operator to pick 60 orders simultaneously.
In the past, operators could sometimes cover 10 to 12 kilometres a day picking A, B, and C items whilst preparing up to six orders simultaneously. Jean-Luc Waetermans explains further: “Combining and alternating between shopper trolley mode and Scallog mode is ideal for meeting the explosion in e-commerce.” And operators agree: “After 12 years working in pedestrian mode, the shopper trolley/Scallog combination is simple, modern, and most importantly, less labour intensive”.
“Zero error” accuracy in order picking – As well as improving picking performance, the Scallog system improves reliability by decreasing human error, which is a driver of extra cost, longer timeframes and end-customer dissatisfaction. The Scallog automated order picking workstation supports operators in all of their tasks with a three-stage system: Spot to light, a light pointer that illuminates the product(s) to be picked, scans them and places them in the order buffer rack.
Jean-Luc Waetermans sums up: “Goods-to-person robotization has boosted our performance by optimizing product flows and the picking process as dictated by our various clients’ products. With an ROI time of under three years, the Scallog solution has become an integral part of our transformation and diversification strategy, contributing to our growth in the high-added-value logistics services market.”