Airport retailers, such as Travel Retail Norway (TRN), are all under pressure to decrease the picking rate for online orders, and make maximum use of the limited available storage space. With the help of AutoStore, TRN achieved both these goals.
Travel Retail Norway operates duty-free shops at five airports in Norway: in Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim, and Kristiansand. All these airports are operated by Avinor, the state-owned company that operates most of the civil airports in Norway. The shops sell mostly perfume, cosmetics, bags, jewelry, watches, and sunglasses.
Quick order fulfillment and maximum use of storage space are key to the success of airport duty-free shops. An automated warehouse picking system seemed like the obvious choice to deal with these challenges.
“Limited storage space is a well-known problem for airports around the world. AutoStore, with its modular and flexible solutions, is the answer to many challenges,” says Øyvind Kollerud, Sales Manager at Element Logic Norway, the world’s first and largest AutoStore distributor.
TRN also has the Click & Collect service, which is very popular with travelers. This service became even more popular during the pandemic when many shops and services had to close. TRN could continue operating, and customers could order their duty-free products and collect them outside the store.
“We were able to offer a 15-minute delivery for duty-free products because of the automated Click & Collect system during this period. Our customers appreciated that,” adds Øyvind Andersen, Logistics Coordinator at Travel Retail Norway.
Before the installation of the AutoStore system, and before the introduction of Click & Collect, fulfilling orders was much more complicated and time-consuming.
“Previously, travelers had to order at least six hours before landing,” says Øyvind Kollerud, Sales Manager at Element Logic Norway.
It often happened that customers wanted to order goods, but couldn’t do so, because of the long waiting times.
“Several customers intended to shop with Click & Collect, but they didn’t have time to pick up the orders due to the long waiting times. That’s why automation was necessary for us,” explains Andersen.
Element Logic faced two major challenges when they installed the AutoStore automated picking system at the airport warehouse: The strict security requirements at the airport, and the unconventional floor plan of the storage room. The warehouse also had a ceiling height of just 5.5 meters, much lower than most warehouses.
These challenges required some lateral thinking. Of the 10 different design proposals, Element Logic chose an option that placed the operator ports in a tunnel inside the AutoStore grid, rather than outside it, as is usually the case. This had to be done to save space.
The store room, when fitted with normal shelving, had just over 160 square meters (1,722 square feet) of shelving space, which is the equivalent of 2,178 AutoStore Bins. After installation, the grid, in which 6,077 Bins can be stored, occupies an area of 318 square meters (3,422 square feet), which comes to a 64% increase in storage capacity.
“To handle the same storage volume that TRN has with AutoStore, a 66% larger storage area would have been necessary. That would be an area of 949 square meters (10,215 square feet),” Kollerud from Element Logic explains.
In TRN’s Oslo warehouse, 10 Robot stock pickers glide over the top of the grid, which has just enough space for the Robots and an operator. The order-picking Robots use long grippers to pull up the requested Bins from below. The automated picking system places Bins containing goods not required for a particular order in any space that’s available at that time.
Once the Robot has retrieved the right Bin, it moves the other Bins back to their original locations on the grid. The chosen Bin is brought to the edge of the grid, where it’s presented to the operator at the picking station, or one of the four CarouselPorts.
For TRN, the installation of the automated picking system has had many positive spinoffs, including the following:
“AutoStore has increased our capacity. More Click & Collect orders equals less stress for customers and increased sales for us,” Andersen concludes.
“After automating, customers can collect duty-free goods one hour after ordering. Previously, travelers had to order at least six hours before landing.”
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