Fans of scaling packaging to reach the top

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It’s hard to scale manual packaging processes to handle peaks in demand. After a recent packaging improvement project at its UK warehouse, Fanatics, a global supplier of sports fan merchandise, realized that automation, such as automatic bagging systems, offers a way reliably handle these peaks in demand without having to increase hours or scramble to find additional manpower. .

Shipping to over 180 countries, merchandise that can be ordered and shipped by Fanatics includes shirts, shorts, socks, baseball caps, mugs and other memorabilia. The online retail giant supplies consumers around the world with official merchandise from some of the biggest names in sport, including Manchester United, the Dallas Cowboys and England Rugby.

From its north Manchester warehouse, an average of 7,500 packs are dispatched each day to meet demand on its popular website. During the peak holiday season, order volumes increase up to four times the average amount.

Until recently, the majority of Fanatics’ packaging operations were handled manually, straining labor resources and slowing order fulfillment. Packers worked at eight packing stations manually filling and sealing bags and printing labels and invoices on two printers.

Fanatics management knew the site needed a bagging and print packaging system that would optimize existing resources, such as labor and warehouse space, and streamline its processes. high-volume e-commerce order processing complexes. After considering her options, she selected a high-speed bagging and printing system (Sealed Air) to automate the filling and sealing of orders shipped in polybags.

“The main reason for installing the machines was to save space while allowing us to meet some pretty ambitious growth targets,” said Fanatics COO Andrew Crozier.

With the help of four Autobag-branded high-speed bagging and printing systems, Fanatics has increased its ability to keep pace with fulfillment demands. The company was able to eliminate most of its manual packing stations and can now process five times more orders per hour with the same resources.

In addition to optimizing labor and warehouse space, the Autobag 850S improves the packaging process thanks to its integrated printer which allows the label to be printed directly on the bag for better labeling soft products or irregularly shaped items.

Crozier calls the system improvement a transformer in that it allows DC to scale up its packaging operation to meet peak demand, given the five-fold increase in orders per hour that can be processed with the same staff.

“The four Autobag 850S machines have transformed the way we pack items and now handle around 75% of orders going through the warehouse,” he concludes. “Without this solution, we would have struggled to have the space needed to cope with the increased volumes. Without them we might have had to resort to a 24/7 operation with officers working through the night, but that was not necessary.

About the Author

Roberto Michel Roberto Michel, editor of Modern, has been covering manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1996, primarily as a former editor and former contributor to Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to Modern since 2004. He has worked on numerous daily newspapers, including ProMat, North American Material Handling Logistics, and National Manufacturing Week. You can reach him at: [email protected]

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