Bedford-based Larson-Juhl UK supplies a wide-range of high-quality crafted frames and mouldings, mountboards, glass and accessories to art galleries, the picture-framing, hobbies and photographic markets.
To optimise its distribution operation and improve delivery times to its customers, the company invested a significant sum in consolidating its three-warehouse operation into a single new facility, complete with special cantilever racking.
At 10m high, the specialist racking is twice the height of that used in the company’s former warehouse. Whilst improving the storage of the frames and mouldings, the racking presented the company with an unexpected problem, namely scanning label barcodes on the end or side of the cantilever arms.
A camera was attached to the forks of a lift truck and relayed an image to a screen in the truck’s cabin. However, the resolution on the camera was poor and this made reading the labels difficult.
A Larson-Juhl UK company director said: “We had all the warehouse infrastructure in place and our material handling fleet was ready, but the problem remained on how the product could be scanned.
“The situation threatened to destabilise everything we had been trying to achieve in optimising the efficiency of our operation.”
On the recommendation of the company which installed the racking, Larson-Juhl approached labelling specialist ASG Services to see if it could devise a solution.
Tony Gresty, Managing Director at ASG Services visited the new facility to determine the problem for himself.
He worked with Larson-Juhl’s IT operative, the FLT provider and a specialist digital imaging company. Following on-site testing, Larson-Juhl opted to use a high-resolution camera instead. While the clarity of the image improved, the problem persisted as the barcodes could not be read properly due to the camera location in relation to the cantilever arms.
“The problem while simple, required a complicated solution. We had never used two dimensional (2D) labels and a 2D barcode in conjunction with a camera so we had to devise a new solution,” said Tony.
Tony determined that the traditional location to install the labels would not be adequate and that using a 2D barcode on the end cap at the end of the arm would be ideal.
So, after determining the right barcode symbology and density, the labels were properly secured to the racking arms so they could be scanned accurately.
The final issue was timescale. ASG Services was able to manufacture and install the labels within a 10-working-day window to facilitate the transfer to the new building to maintain Larson-Juhl’s schedule.
With the ability to scan accurately, the company was able to optimise its distribution operation in the way it had always intended.
Stock levels can be accurately maintained and the optimal product for each customer identified quickly and dispatched ready for next day delivery.
The Company Director at Larson-Juhl UK concluded: "Tony project-managed the whole thing and kept me constantly updated on the progress of the job and any hurdles that needed to be overcome. One of the things that impressed me was how proactive he was, and how quickly he derived a solution to a daunting problem.
"It was a stressful time for the company as we had so much invested in the new operation but time and again, Tony delivered effective solutions."
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