that directs all of the activities. The three-shift operation
has the capacity to distribute more than 25 million pairs of
The project was not without its challenges, however. For
one thing, the available land was limited, so Clarks decided
to build upward instead of outward, making extensive use
of automated equipment. For another, because the DC was
built close to town, building codes restricted the facility’s
height. Although a variance was granted to build to a height
of 70 feet above ground level, space
would still be tight. So to fit in the AS/
RS, a four-level facility was constructed with the bottom level underground
when viewed from the front entrance.
The new building has a relatively modest footprint of about 450,000 square
feet, with some additional footage to
expand when needed. The automated
systems use the full height of the facility,
while picking is performed on mezzanine levels, which have additional mezzanines located above them to accommodate future growth.
“We wanted to make sure we had
the capacity to meet our future business
needs,” says Paul Clark, Clarks’ group
performance and optimization leader.
“We can grow that capacity in places by adding more picking
stations and other work areas. So it gives us some flexibility.”
The automated systems occupy most of the facility.
Approximately two-thirds of the building consists of
racking, including racks for automated storage. The DC
also contains conventional racks, which are used to hold
some packed products and which are serviced by Raymond
Today, products flow through the automated facility with
choreographed precision. Processing begins at the facility’s
four receiving docks, where ocean containers filled with
goods are unloaded. Most of the merchandise arrives floor-stacked in the containers, which enter the country through
the ports of Baltimore, New York, and Philadelphia. Two
Caljan telescopic conveyors from Rite-Hite extend into the
containers to aid in the unloading process, with each conveyor able to move between two of the four doors.
Incoming cases are first weighed and measured. About
3 percent are then conveyed to a vendor compliance area,
where these receipts are further inspected for quality. Some
repack may also be done in this area if vendor cartons don’t
meet the minimum standards for automated processing.
Label applicators next place a bar code “license plate”
onto each received carton, including those that have passed
through the compliance area. The cartons are then scanned
using fixed scanners from industrial sensor manufacturer
Sick and conveyed to a large carton-level AS/RS. The sys-
tem has 14 aisles and 30 levels of racking. TGW storage
and retrieval cranes operate in the aisles, which are 600 feet
long. The cranes are equipped to carry two cartons at a time
to 511,000 locations, where they are stored double deep.
To build goodwill with the Hanover community, Clarks
provides tours to local school groups and even allowed
students to name the storage and retrieval machines. For
instance, one machine is named BOB, short for “bring our
boxes.” The students also drew pictures
of their namesakes that are displayed on
the fencing at the ends of the aisles.
As orders arrive, the warehouse management system directs the AS/RS to
retrieve needed items. These are conveyed to the large active OSR Shuttle
system for fulfillment.
“The OSR is the bread and butter of
our operation,” says Smith. “Knapp uses
algorithms to put the inventory in the
right place, and then we rely on the solu-
tion to do the work.”
The OSR Shuttle features 10 aisles
and multiple levels of storage positions.
Robotic shuttles glide on rails on each
level to service the positions. The OSR is actually two systems in one, with each functioning separately. OSR1 is used
to feed order picking stations, while OSR2 holds packed
goods until they are ready for shipping.
The company experiences two peak seasons—December/
January and July/August. In an effort to balance work load
during these peaks, orders like those for the wholesale
channel are filled in advance and placed into OSR2, where
they’re held for shipment. “This allows us to get ahead from
an order fulfillment perspective,” says Paul Clark. “We can
smooth out the workflow, and it [frees up] capacity for
when we need to make a big push.”
The OSR system has 235 total shuttles, with about four
shuttles operating on most levels within each aisle. Upon
arrival from the AS/RS, products are diverted to an aisle,
raised vertically by lifts to the assigned level, and then
transferred onto the shuttles for horizontal transport to the
storage positions. When an order is prepped for assembly,
the shuttles retrieve the items for delivery to 10 goods-
to-person processing stations. Five stations are located
on the ground floor, with the other five on a mezzanine
level above. Each of the 10 aisles is dedicated to one of the
picking stations to shorten delivery time, but the system is
designed to deliver products from any aisle to any station.
Only one order is processed at a time at a station, and
only one stock-keeping unit (SKU) of source product is
presented. This makes it virtually impossible to pick the