Ernsting's Family automates with vertical OptiSorter

Added on November 14th 2019
The German fashion retailer Ernsting's Family foresees a significant growth of its online sales in the coming years. The packaging and dispatching of orders has recently been automated to make order processing more efficient. Space savings, flexibility and suitability for various sizes of packages were important considerations when opting for the vertical OptiSorter from Optimus Sorters.
With more than 1,800 store locations, an online shop and around 12,000 employees, Ernsting's Family is one of the largest cross-channel providers on the German textile market. The company managed in 2016-2017 to achieve a 1.120 billion euros turnover. Ernsting's Family offers fashion and accessories for the whole family emphasizing on high quality at a surprisingly low price. Every year more sales points are added in Germany and Austria. In addition, online sales show a strong upward trend.
Online orders
‘Online we offer a product range which consists of six daily changing items, varying from clothes and shoes to toys and home accessories,’ explains Florian Wenning, Senior Manager Logistics Excellence at the impressive headquarters of Ernsting's Family in Coesfeld-Lette, not far from the Dutch border. All online orders are processed here in the warehouse and then get prepared for shipment. Customers have the option to receive their online purchases in two ways: have them delivered at home by DHL or collect them at one of the 1800 branches of Ernsting's Family at no extra cost. ‘The majority of the online orders are delivered to the shops. Our own trucks supply our sales points daily via a fixed route. Part of the orders are delivered first at the warehouse in Klieken near Berlin, from where half of the shops get supplied including the shops in Austria,’ Wenning explains.
Sort by route
To speed up the delivery process, Ernsting's Family invested recently in an automatic packing line and a vertical OptiSorter, designed by Optimus Sorters from Beuningen. The orders are still picked manually and are placed on a conveyor belt. Subsequently the automatic packing machine produces the packages and the address label. ‘If you automate one aspect of the logistics process, you often need to make changes elsewhere too,’ explains Wenning. ‘Packages arrived randomly and unsorted from the packaging line. Therefore, a machine being able to sort according to shipping method and route was without doubt a necessity, but there was hardly room for it.’ Wenning researched existing options and googled his way towards the Dutch company Optimus Sorters in Beuningen, manufacturer of a space-saving sorting machine. ‘The vertical OptiSorter proved to be the ideal solution for us. In addition to being compact it is able to handle both small and large parcels quickly and easily. Moreover, the sorter could be connected to the packaging line with a conveyor without any issues.’
The basic design of the vertical OptiSorter consists of a multilevel sorting belt with trays and mobile pushers. The integrated barcode scanner scans the tour or shipping method on the shipping label, after which the package is “pushed” into the correct collection station. The machine at Ernsting's Family contains 15 stations, 14 for the various routes with shop pick-up points and one for shipping via DHL. ‘The system is modular and after expansion of our warehouse we plan to add more stations. We implemented it as an interim solution, but nevertheless the system works perfect and without failures’, says a satisfied Wenning. ‘On average, the machine sorts 1000 parcels per hour, while its peak power is at 6000. Every year about two million parcels go over the sorter and as foreseen that amount will only grow in the future.’
Advantages of the vertical OptiSorter
  • space-saving
  • modular
  • suitable for large and small packages
  • fast (up to 6000 packages per hour)
  • simple technology
  • easy to integrate
Why Optimus?
  • Proven simple technology
  • Modular design
  • Low cost solutions
  • Single point of contact
  • Worldwide service and maintenance
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