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WesTrac boosts productivity with automated picking system at NSW warehouse
Wed, 21st Feb 2024

WesTrac, one of the world's biggest authorised Caterpillar equipment dealers, has achieved improved efficiency and productivity in its Tomago warehouse, New South Wales, thanks to an Automated Piece Picking System for Industrial Supplies (APPIS) by Dematic.

The Tomago warehouse is the crucial distribution centre for WesTrac's seventeen regional branches and seven main workshops. Recognising the need to maintain pace with technological advancement while meeting increased customer demand, WesTrac implemented the APPIS to optimise existing floor space and diversify storage solutions.

As described by Natalia Trewin, Warehouse Operations Manager at WesTrac, as a high-volume operation, the warehouse holds 80,000 SKUs and processes 40,000 order lines weekly. The APPIS, powered by Dematic Software, has significantly streamlined these operations, enabling one warehouse worker to accomplish the work of four or five manual pickers.

The automated storage and goods-to-person (GTP) picking system resembles a giant Rubik's cube and consists of 15,350 segmented bins, 24 robots, and six GTP workstations with additional features to optimise efficiency and speed up parts distribution.

Thanks to the Dematic solution, WesTrac's productivity levels have seen a notable increase, helping the company advance and improve customer service.

Trewin commented, "We are already exceeding our initial throughput targets, which were to be picking over 500 lines per hour or 30% more with our existing headcount. Previously, with the same amount of people, we were only able to pick 300 lines."

"The speed and density of the solution means that we can get urgent orders out to customers within five to 10 minutes if needed. Our customers rely on us to ensure they can keep doing the work that they need to do, so it's really important that we're able to step up our service."

The APPIS plays a vital role in managing customer orders efficiently. Orders received via WesTrac's warehouse management system (WMS) are transmitted to the Dematic warehouse control system (WCS) software. The WCS then directs the robots to fetch all items needed to fulfil the orders, which are then brought to the GTP workstations for packing and dispatch.

The Dematic solution gives WesTrac an extra 1,000 square meters of available space, facilitating faster responses, quicker parts distribution, the option to offer a wider range of products, and extended delivery cut-off times while still ensuring same-day delivery.

As a scalable solution, the AutoStore grid can easily be expanded with minimal disruption and progressively filled with bins as storage demand grows. Trewin indicates how the flexibility of the system allows WesTrac to increase its storage capacity: "One of the great features of AutoStore is that we are able to expand the system without interrupting operations. It is very easy to put more robots on the grid to, for example, have more throughput over a weekend."

The AutoStore system is among the most sustainable warehouse automation systems today, with robots utilising power regeneration technology to reduce energy consumption, typically using less power than a toaster.