Jo-Ann Stores, USA

Every company strives for growth, but when growth is rapid and overall efficiency is affected, it is time for a change. Jo-Ann Stores faced this very challenge and crafted an effective solution with Dematic Corp.

The challenge: rapid growth strains effectiveness

Jo-Ann Stores had been supplying nearly 700 fabric and craft stores from a centrally located distribution center (DC) in Hudson, Ohio, when expansion forced changes. With the acquisition of the House of Fabric chain and the success of its new Jo-Ann etc. superstores, the Hudson DC couldn’t efficiently handle the increased volume. With the 300 House of Fabric’s stores located largely on the west coast, transportation costs and schedules were also major issues. It was taking up to three weeks to fill orders in the most distant west coast stores. The network needed re-engineering.

Jo-Ann’s logistics team began to analyze and re-design the Jo-Ann distribution system. They concluded that any new system had to quickly adapt to change, handle over 30,000 SKUs, accommodate seasonal variations, handle merchandise as varied as bolts of fabric and artificial floral arrangements and must provide for anticipated future growth. 

The solution: distribute the distribution centers  

The solution was two strategically located, automated distribution centers (DC) engineered by Dematic. A new DC was built in Visalia, California to accommodate the western United States. As a greenfield project, an inside-out design process could be used to first analyze material flow requirements, then engineer the optimum system and build a structure around it. The 630,000 square foot facility features four story picking modules and a 620-foot RS200 sliding shoe sorter, designed to handle cartons up to five feet long. 

The existing Hudson DC was completely re-engineered; multi-tier picking modules and a new high-speed sorter were added to improve material flow and efficiency. Productivity increased dramatically. The Hudson DC was originally designed as a manufacturing plant and the building constrained system re-design options. The 1.2 million square foot facility supplies all stores east of the Mississippi River. 

Both distribution centers use warehouse management (WMS) and enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems. Incoming product is weighed and measured as it enters into inventory.  

The results

The expansion and automation of Jo-Ann Stores’ supply chain network has successfully positioned the company for growth. The new network dramatically improved material flow, shortened the order cycle, significantly reduced transportation costs, enhanced productivity and allows for future store expansion. 

"Dematic helped us accelerate our supply chain. The automated solution they provided is a vital link in our supply chain network."

– Tony Dissinger, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Management and Logistics, Jo-Ann Stores

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