Theo Kristoris, Managing Director, Leader Computers
AutoStore™ gives us a solution that helps ship fast and on time to thousands of MSP’s/IT resellers in Australia. We are proud to be at the cutting edge of technology and to bring this automation to our resellers.
Leader Computers is a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality Information Communications Technology (ICT) products. Leader is the largest Australian-owned PC manufacturer, with warehousing and sales offices located in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. Leader supplies exclusively to IT resellers, with a large client base across the country.
The company distributes products from over 70 vendors, including the world’s leading brands such as Microsoft, LG, Lenovo, Ubiquiti, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Corsair plus many more. Leader also manufactures Leader branded PC's, Notebooks, Tablets, and Intel™ white box series products. Leader distributes a huge range of IT products and peripherals, including:
- Leader PCs, notebooks, tablets, AIO and servers
- Leader business & corporate range of computers
- Leader, HP, Toshiba and ASUS notebooks and tablets
- LG, AOC, ViewSonic, and Asus monitors
- Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI, Sapphire mainboards and video cards
“Leader Computers, which is a trade-only distributor of IT products and solutions, was looking to upgrade its Lidcombe warehouse facility in Sydney. As an integrator of automated warehousing solutions, Dematic was able to help Leader to transform its warehouse with automation,” said David Lamb, Consulting Manager, Dematic.
Assessing Leader Computers’ needs
Leader Computers’ Lidcombe warehouse stores approximately 8,500 product SKUs, including very large server racks and monitors, right through to very small products such as thumb drives and CPUs.
“Throughout the pandemic, working from home and home-schooling really started to take off. Webcams and all the other IT infrastructure that were necessary really had an explosion of throughput. This led to Leader Computers experiencing increased orders from the resellers they work with and more pressure on warehouse operations,” added David.
In response to the increased demand and as a leading technology company, Leader Computers wanted to upgrade its warehouse with automation that would increase business efficiency, accuracy, and productivity, as well as make better use of the available warehouse space.
“The requirements for this automation project were, one, to save labour; two, to save on footprint; and thirdly, for Leader Computers to walk the talk of how you can use technology to better improve your business,” said David.
The most important aspects to consider when designing a system are throughput, order profile and storage profile. Leader had a high number of product SKUs, but 90% of orders were for 10 units or less, plus it needed room for product growth in future. Based on these requirements Dematic determined that its AutoStore™ solution was the best fit for Leader.
David Lamb, Consulting Manager, Dematic
The requirements for this automation project were, one, to save labour; two, to save on footprint; and thirdly, for Leader Computers to walk the talk of how you can use technology to better improve your business
AutoStore automates Leader’s warehouse
AutoStore is an automated storage, goods-to-person (GTP) picking and fulfilment solution, designed to maximise warehouse space and minimise manual labour.
“The Leader AutoStore solution features nine robots, three goods-to-person ports and 6,662 bins,” explained David. “The products are manually put into aluminium and cube-based grids via an operator from a pallet, which is then picked up by a robot stored in the grid, and when it's required following an order, is picked up and delivered back to the carousel port for the operator.
“The robots have two batteries in play, and they run approximately eight hours during a shift. When the robots get low on charge, they'll return to their charging station where they'll stay in play for up to an hour where they can get full recovery of a hundred percent.”
The implementation of AutoStore at Leader Computers’ warehouse took eight weeks during a period of COVID-19 interruptions. Dematic continues to offer 24-hour on-call support and scheduled maintenance.
AutoStore key features and benefits
When compared to a typical manual warehouse operation, AutoStore streamlines the process significantly, creating an efficient picking process with a single operator doing the equivalent work of four to five manual pickers. People are no longer walking around the warehouse to locate the next pick slot. AutoStore utilises a goods-to-person (GTP) methodology, where the products are brought directly to the picker.
“Before the AutoStore solution was implemented at Leader Computers, a large order of a few different types of hard drives would take five to six hours to pick. With this new AutoStore system, they've been able to pick a similar type of order in just 30 minutes,” said David.
Under their manual operation, Leader was picking and packing 20-40 lines per hour, which with AutoStore has now increased to 150-200.
Likewise, replenishment and returns can be effectively streamlined with AutoStore. Items are received directly to a single location for insertion into the system. This is especially beneficial for reverse logistics, which in a manual operation, can be a tedious effort to walk around the warehouse and visit each slot to replenish single units. With AutoStore, the bins are delivered directly to the receiving area, then whisked away by robots for storage. Returns can also be consolidated with existing stock at receiving by delivering specific bins in sequence to the operator.
The expense of storage space and footprint is another key challenge for Australian warehouses. AutoStore has the highest storage density of any GTP solution in the market, allowing businesses to clear up to 80% of the footprint from their existing manual warehousing space, and thus avoiding having to move to a larger facility.
The solution improves ergonomics, stock accuracy, pick accuracy and product security.
“With the AutoStore solution, security is built in. You literally can't get into the system manually without all the appropriate controls. This was another key benefit of the system for Leader Computers,” added David.
With Dematic and the AutoStore solution, stock levels are accurate with continuous cycle-counting, pick rates are clear, and fast-moving and slow-moving SKUs are easily identified. Likewise, service levels are measurable and easy improvements often reveal themselves within the data and reporting space. Furthermore, the interface can be tailored to integrate with a business’ ERP or WMS.
“The solution is highly adaptable when it comes to service levels and can be quickly expanded. If Leader has a day of higher volume orders, they now have the flexibility to just run the system for longer hours to make sure they get the orders out the door within that timeframe,” said David.
The Leader Computers’ AutoStore solution has already been built for 10% annual growth over three years, however, the grid can also be easily expanded and progressively filled with bins, plus robots added, as SKU and storage demand increases. This scaling up can all be done with minimal interruption to operations.
“An additional benefit of AutoStore for businesses like Leader who lease their premises is that the entire system can be easily and quickly relocated should they need to move into a new warehouse space,” added David.
AutoStore is also one of the most sustainable warehouse picking solutions on the market. It uses power regeneration technology with robots to make AutoStore one of the lowest energy consuming technologies in warehousing. In fact, a turnkey system with 10 robots and a GTP port will consume the same energy as a domestic toaster: 1,200 Watts.
The Dematic approach
Dematic has a consultative approach, with an emphasis placed on developing strong relationships with its customers.
“We've had a successful rollout of AutoStore for Leader Computers. When I recently spoke with them, Leader said they considered Dematic as family, and they're really proud of this technology as well.
“All in all, AutoStore is a leading warehouse innovation making an intelligent use of space, streamlining picking, packing, and replenishment operations, while also allowing room for future growth. We’re really excited to see where this technology takes Leader Computers,” said David.
Most importantly of all, AutoStore has already enabled Leader Computers to deliver an enhanced level of customer service to its reseller network.
“Leader’s purpose is to help our resellers grow and be highly profitable. We are always looking at fast ways to get stock to our resellers. The AutoStore gives us a solution that helps ship fast and on time to thousands of MSP’s/IT resellers in Australia. We are proud to be at the cutting edge of technology and to bring this automation to our resellers,” said Theo Kristoris, Managing Director, Leader Computers.