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Upgrade Keeps Fred's Products Moving

Sorter Upgrade Keeps Fred's Products Moving

Diane Blair

Sorter Upgrade Keeps Fred's Products Moving

In the last 60 years, Fred’s order-fulfillment process has evolved from loading items onto pickup trucks by hand, to operating two 22-hour-per-day, 6-day-per-week distribution centers that stock more than 12,000 items for nearly 700 discount retail locations.

But, with progress comes growing pains, and an ever-increasing volume of product pushed Fred’s material handling systems to their limits. A recent audit of the aging sortation system in their Memphis DC revealed excessive wear and tear on the sorter. It was determined that a sorter upgrade was necessary in order to avoid downtime that would cause a major disruption to the Fred’s supply chain.

View the video below to see how Intelligrated’s sorter upgrade increased Fred’s material handling productivity in a minimal rebuild turnaround time.

“Without the sorter running, we would not be able to service our customers in our stores,” said Reggie Jacobs, executive vice president of distribution, transportation and corporate service at Fred’s. “It would be devastating to the operation … We need to have vendor partners who understand how critical material handling is to the success of our organization. That’s why we picked Intelligrated to assist us with the project.”

As a part of its Sorter Upgrade Program, Intelligrated engineers identified specific problem areas of the sorter, provided a full analysis of available options and gave Fred’s the flexibility to customize its solution. It was determined that upgrading the sorter from a tube to a slat carrying surface would boost capacity to meet the retailer’s expanded needs.

Upgrading the sorter required a complete mechanical rebuild and in order to minimize downtime, Intelligrated implemented the entire sorter rebuild in just four days. A team of ten field service technicians were dispatched to execute the project, which included tearing down and rebuilding the sorter, training the Fred’s team, ensuring availability of spare parts and fully testing the new system. After four days (including Saturday and Sunday), the DC was up and running without a hitch.

The sorter upgrade has yielded impressive results through peak throughput rates, handling a higher volume and larger variety of conveyable SKUs than before.