PETCO: New materials handling system is the cat’s meow - News & Press - TGW Logistics Group
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PETCO: New materials handling system is the cat’s meow


With more than 76 million cats, 62 million dogs and 9 million aquarium owners, Americans love pets. Over the past 45 years, PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc has built a national brand as the place where pets and their owners go, helping more animals to live long and happy lives with their loving human companions. Today, the San Diego-based retailer has a footprint in all 50 states, with more than 1,000 stores and a growing e-commerce business.

To support the company’s growth, PETCO partnered with TGW Systems to design and implement the materials handling system in a new 506,000 square foot distribution center in Braselton, Georgia. The facility, which went live in June 2008, services 237 stores in 13 states in the southeastern and southwestern United States.

The features in the new facility include:

  • 24 break pack piece-pick zones with room for 8,352 stock picking units (SKUs) and a conveyor system designed to handle 1,500 totes per hour …
  • 3 full case pick modules with a total of 3,168 full case locations and throughput of 5,400 cases per hour…
  • A high-speed narrow belt shipping sorter with the capacity to sort 7,200 units per hour, performance on par with a sliding shoe sorter at roughly half the cost…
  • Pick-to-light, voice-directed and RF-directed picking solutions …

The solution is flexible enough to handle a wide variety of products – everything from accessories that fit easily into a carton and can be automatically conveyed and sorted, to non-conveyable items like bags of dog food, animal crates and furniture. It can also process an estimated 5 million units per month for store replenishment as well as direct-to-consumer orders from a 70,000 square foot area dedicated to piece picking for e-commerce fulfillment.

Locating the new distribution center in the southeast delivered two additional strategic benefits:

During 2008, the year the facility went live PETCO drivers traveled 900,000 fewer miles, saving 135,000 gallons of diesel, furthering the retailer’s “Going Green” initiative. By being closer to the markets it serves, the project drove further transportation efficiencies because PETCO was also able to convert over-the-road truck routes to southern Florida and Texas to intermodal.  

“Not only have we reduced our cost per case, but the cost to operate our overall network has done down as a direct result of the capacity we added in Braselton,” says Chris McDonough, Southeast region director. “We eliminated material handling inefficiencies associated with using third party warehousing and we have a better cost structure across the network than we did before Braselton.”

In addition to meeting PETCO’s throughput and handling requirements, the project had to be completed in a very short window: from design to go-live was just nine months. “We had to get this done and TGW brought their expertise and resources to bear to make it happen,” adds Mike Fernstrom, director of DC operations. “They were a real partner throughout this project.”

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