Lakeland - Home & Kitchenware Products
Lakeland is one of the leading names in UK kitchenware and home ware products. A family run business, Lakeland operates from a state of the art distribution centre in Kendal, supplying products for mail order in addition to their growing number of retail outlets nationwide.
Lakeland was originally founded by Alan Rayner in the 1960’s when he spotted a niche in the market to supply freezer bags to farmers for freezing poultry and meat for sale at the farm gate. Due to the success of this product, Alan steadily grew this business and extended his product range to include home ware and kitchen gadgets. Their success was ongoing and in the 1980’s Lakeland expanded their premises, opening their flagship store and doubling the size of their warehouse operation. However as Lakeland continued to thrive they rapidly outgrew their warehouse facility in Windermere and as a result, they made the decision to build a state of the art warehouse in Kendal specifically for distribution to their growing number of retail outlets. Further growth of this facility was undertaken in 2000 when they incorporated their mail order business into their existing Kendal site to create a state of the art 80,000 square foot Direct Despatch centre.
“Customer Service – A Key Philosophy”
Now run by sons, Sam, Martin and Julian Rayner, as well as non-family member directors, Lakeland has now been in business for over 40 years. They attribute the ongoing success of the company to following the same simple philosophy as used by their father, “always look after the customer and the business will look after itself”. Indeed, Lakeland remain extremely customer orientated and pride themselves on setting themselves apart from the rest with their friendly, speedy, personalised mail order service and state of the art retail outlets. They also operate a 24-hour customer service desk along with a full no quibble guarantee on all their product ranges to ensure their customers are always totally satisfied.
Lakeland keeps their customer promises by the optimised running of their Kendal distribution centre. Ensuring they maintain real time visibility of their warehouse, their stock levels and processes are critical to Lakeland in making sure they operate effectively with minimal error and cost to the organisation. In 1996 Lakeland implemented an RF system in order to optimise their current warehouse operation. This system has since been upgraded but still continues to help grow and maintain their high standards and market share in an increasingly competitive environment.
Maintaining High Standards
Lakeland fully understand and appreciate the effectiveness of their RF system and like to source the most up to date systems and radio data terminals to help them continue to providing an outstanding service offering. Commenting on the effectiveness of the system Chris Iveson, Inventory Team leader for Lakeland says, “The benefit of the system means that I have real-time information to hand on every facet of the operation such as allocated tasks, picking rates and stock location. All this information helps provide our customer with a speedy and responsive service which is critical in ensuring complete customer satisfaction and company growth”.
Lakeland has been using radio data terminals for a number of years in order to execute their system and helps facilitate a real time view of their warehouse. As support was removed from the previous RDTs used by the company, Lakeland felt the time was right to look into alternative options. Lakeland selected leading UK supplier TouchStar to fulfil their radio data terminal requirements. Working together with TouchStar to select the best solution for their warehouse, Lakeland purchased the Monaco truck mounted terminals. These terminals were very well received by both Lakeland and their employees. Complemented for the clarity of its display, the fit for purpose Monaco offered a more user-friendly screen in comparison with their earlier units. In addition, the Monaco also incorporated a fully integrated sealed membrane keyboard, a significant plus for Lakeland who had often struggled with raised keyboards finding that keys came away quite easily.
Lakeland has now been working with TouchStar for over 5 years and still use the existing Monacos that have been in place for over half a decade. In addition they are now using TouchStar Atlanta handheld terminals for mail order put-away and have recently purchased a Toronto full screen terminal. Lakeland enjoys the excellent customer support and regular salesman contact and having a local support centre suited their business needs, reducing downtime and resulting in an excellent turnaround. TouchStar are constantly working with Lakeland to provide them with both ergonomic and fit-for-purpose units that truly help them maintain an efficient warehouse-operating environment.
Lakeland have incorporated the RF data capture technology into various departments throughout their general warehousing/picking operation significantly helping them to optimise the many processes within their distribution facility including:
For putaway, standard deliveries are moved from the holding area in distribution via a conveyor belt system. Utilising reach trucks, the operator will log into their Red Prairie WMS system on their Monaco truck mounted terminal and scan the pallet using TouchStar’s Power Scan barcode scanner. The Monaco screen will display a location for putaway and operator will use the reach trucks to transport the pallet to the required location. Manually entering the check digits into the Monaco RDTs at location, the operator completes the activity to confirm putaway. Stock levels will be updated in real time and will ensure optimum stocks are maintained for maximum order fulfilment.
From the main warehouse, Lakeland will pick orders for both their retail outlet and for their mail order departments:
PICK FOR STORES
Lakeland will also use low-level order picking trucks with Monaco truck mount terminals to facilitate their picking for stores operation. With stock levels and locations being updated in real time throughout the putaway operation, Lakeland are able to complete their picking operation significantly quicker than with a comparative paper based operation, with the availability of up to date and accurate stock information. Users will login to their WMS system on their Monaco RDT and are sent to a location to pick a required product. After retrieving the product from the location they will confirm the pick by manually entering the check digit from the racking into the Monaco and then the user will be directed to the next location to pick from. This will automatically update stock levels.
PICK FOR MAIL ORDER
Again utilising low-level order pickers, Lakeland also pick goods for their Mail Order department. This is done in a similar manner as picking for retail outlet except that goods are picked into cages and this is normally done in bulk as opposed to individual items. The picked items are then sent through to the mail order warehouse for putaway.
Replenishment operations are frequently carried out by Lakeland. In the main warehouse, racking levels 1 and 2 are classed as the traditional pick faces. All the levels above these are used for storage. Lakeland use the Monaco and the information from their WMS system which advises in real time which pick faces need replenishing. The Monaco will display clear instructions as to the storage locations to pick from. Operators will then pick from the specified location and move the stock down to the pick face. In order to complete the activity the user will manually enter the check digits into the Monaco to confirm the replenishment and to update all pick face stock levels.
After stock is picked from distribution for mail order, it will then be transferred in this department for putaway. The putaway operation in the Mail Order department is completed using the Atlanta 8000 handheld. Users will enter the TAG number or pallet number into the Atlanta that will then direct the user to a location for putaway. They will use the Atlanta to confirm putaway by scanning or manually entering the check digits as confirmation.
As Lakeland continue to grow and maintain their high standards and market share, the optimisation of their Kendal warehouse facility through the use of RF has really helped Lakeland provide the high service levels that they are renowned for. Chris continues, “The removal of the distraction of paper picking in the distribution area has significantly reduced picking errors and increased efficiency dramatically. We also benefit from the real time stock movement updates having 100% confidence that all stock information is right up to date”. With the ability to view their warehouse facility in real time, Lakeland continue to streamline their operations allowing more effective allocation of resources and enabling them to respond to their store and customer requirements quickly and effectively.
Looking To The Future
Lakeland continues to update and optimize their existing system, having recently purchased TouchStar’s Toronto full screen terminal for use by the reach truck operations team leader. The device will be operating both as a standard radio terminal, as well as having the ability to access the “Dispatcher” warehouse management system. The dual functionality of the unit will allow the Red Prairie software to operate wirelessly on the Toronto so increasing productivity by reducing the need to return to a PC for access. Access to an overall ‘real time’ view of the warehouse will allow Lakeland to view the status of various activities, such as the amount of replenishment to be done, the amount of deliveries requiring put-away and the amount of picking required - all vital components in helping them to allocate and manage their resources more efficiently.
Lakeland is also trialing TouchStar Bluetooth scanners. This avoids the manual entry of a tote number into the radio data terminal. The benefit for Lakeland is that it will virtually eliminate typing errors that in turn will mean that the tote will not be rejected when placed in the Autostore in mail order. This will help Lakeland avoid a lot of complex tasks needed to resolve the rejection issues and thus will significantly increase user productivity.
Lakeland is excited by the potential that radio frequency technology offers with regard to further process improvements. This potential has been already been fully realised in key areas of the business and continues to help Lakeland deliver unsurpassable customer service levels and secure tangible operational improvements.