Paper warehouse goes wireless

Paper warehouse goes wireless

Wireless system is one of the world's most advanced

One of Australia's oldest and largest paper product wholesalers has turned its back on the use of paper in its major warehouses.

Edwards Dunlop Paper has switched from a paper-based data recording system to radio frequency data transmission in its Sydney and Melbourne warehouses.

The 130 year old company's inventory control, warehouse management and logistics system is now regarded as among the most advanced in the world.

Staff use RF data capture to increase the efficiency of warehouse stock movement.

Edwards Dunlop uses Intermec Norand Pen*Key 6440 data collection terminals on all materials handling vehicles in the warehouse. The 41 and 51-key alphanumeric terminals were selected for their 8MB RAM, 4MB Flash, barcode-scanning capabilities, and because the technology is compatible with Edwards Dunlop's PRONTO distribution and warehouse management software.


The terminals communicate directly with the company's Melbourne-based DEC 3000 Alpha Server through the Norand 2.4GHz radio frequency transmission system to access points, Ethernet cabling and a standard Telnet connection.

"We choose the 2.4GHz radio transmission system for its speed of operation, even though it required multiple access points in the warehouses to achieve full coverage," said Edwards Dunlop MIS manager, Steven Huber.

The first warehouse to be equipped with the RF data collection system was the Chullora facility near Sydney. This 90,000 sq. ft warehouse has a 7,000 pallet capacity, each pallet holding up to half a tonne of paper.

Ten terminals are used in the Sydney warehouse and a further 14 in the company's 10,000 pallet-capacity storage centre in Melbourne.

With a total of 4,000 stock lines held in the Sydney and Melbourne warehouses, the need for efficient inventory control was critical. The Sydney warehouse alone receives 300 orders, 100 pallets to put away, and 50 other stock movements, such as replenishment, every day.

According to Mr Huber, prior to the introduction of the data collection system, any product movement in the warehouse was accomplished by tickers. The adoption of the real time RF system was aimed at eliminating the need for staff to return to their office for the next job, saving time and potentially boosting productivity.

Full system utilisation will encompass four phases: putaway, stock movements and stocktakes, picking, and EDI receipting. The first two phases have been fully implemented with phase three expected to be operational by July.

Although the RF data collection system's full capabilities have not yet been exploited, Edwards Dunlop's MIS department has found it is already delivering significant benefits.

Phases one and two have delivered time savings for the receipting and putaway functions and 25 per cent savings on stock movements and replenishment. Stocktakes, which previously took three days to complete, are now handled in half the time.

"The savings realised so far from the initial introduction of RF data capture has indicated the overall benefits the system will provide when fully implemented," Mr Huber said.

"Order picking is currently being introduced in the Sydney warehouse and although picking is taking slightly longer at present, we anticipate turning this around where the whole operation will be much quicker," he said.

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