Southern Wine and Spirits, USA

Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc. (Southern), was founded in 1968 and distributes in 28 states. It is known for its state-of-the art distribution capabilities and superior customer service.

The company’s annual sales are in excess of $7 billion, commanding more than 19 percent of total domestic wine and spirits wholesaler revenues. It operates 18 state-of-the-art distribution centers throughout the United States.

The challenge: Streamline waving, increase throughput and reduce product breakage

After converting two of its DCs into its "New Generation" format, just last year the company finished its third, and biggest distribution center yet - a 650,000 square-foot facility in Lakeland, Florida, built as a state-of-the-art complex from the ground up. At the center of this DC’s material handling strength is a sophisticated high-speed sortation system and conveying infrastructure designed and manufactured by Dematic, enabling the facility to handle 12,000 beverage SKUs and moving 7,000 split cases per hour. This DC represents one of the highest volume facilities handling wine and spirits distribution within the United States.  

The solution

The facility uses roller accumulation conveyers developed by Dematic, featuring 2" rollers to minimize gaps, which contributes to maintaining low product breakage. The slug merge system by Dematic controls the staging and release of cartons into the high-speed sorter, increasing system throughput and eliminating bottlenecks. Dematic’s high-speed sliding shoe sorter provides quiet sortation and ultra-high throughput. The sorter is capable of handling a product volume of 10,000 cases an hour, and an additional 12,000 bottles in split cases per hour.   

The results

The breakage percentage with this system is very low, approximately .075 percent. That is about 50 percent lower than the average breakage for this industry.  Before the new system, the company averaged about 150 cases per-man-hour for the entire DC, now it is handling 225 cases per-man-hour. In terms of shipping accuracy, Southern was averaging one percent error out the door before, now it averages 0.2 percent error, a 60 percent reduction.    

"We are putting in more automation, more technology, and building bigger facilities. Not only are we growing because of the growth of our business, but our distribution centers are growing because of our strategy to consolidate our investments into fewer facilities, while making them more efficient and productive."

- Bobby Burg, Senior VP of Supply Chain Strategy, Southern Wine and Spirits


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