QVC Client Case Study

QVC UK is the biggest television shopping channel in Great Britain, broadcasting since 1993, with an interactive website, mobile apps and social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

 

  • Warehouse Control System
  • Automation and Hardware
  • Over Ship Label
  • SKU data sync
qvc logo
Key Facts
  • Bespoke software driven automation and handling solution.
  • Fulfilment of high order volumes from several sales channels plus peaks generated by regular promotions.
  • Seamless integration with QVC core business systems.
The Challenge

An outbound despatch system that would keep pace with QVCs sales activity and enable them to provide competitive customer service at all times.

 

  • To provide next day national delivery to all QVC customers
  • To provide real time reporting on pre-defined KPIs.
  • To despatch a large product range from a varied supplier base allowing for inconsistencies in handling and data capture technology.
  • To reduce reliance on manual systems.
Our Approach

A collaborative approach was taken by both parties with QVC having considerable input to the overall design.  Due to the scale of the solution and the fact that the overall scope of the project grew as time went, by a steering committee was set up to guide both parties through the scoping and installation period, where for a time both new and old systems were in operation side by side.  A number of challenges were overcome by adopting a partnership approach to problem solving. An example would be that to overcome the problems caused by the use of varied supplier pallets – where quality and size were inconsistent with an automated solution – a baseboard system was designed.  Using a dedicated project manager Conveyor Networks managed the different partners involved in the solution, ranging from the Crisplant sorting solution changes, through conveyor and machinery supplier of OSL labelling solutions and SKU Data Sync solutions with automatic bag machinery.

The Solution

Conveyor Networks recommended a software based solution using Interface Manager to control the automation and hardware as well as providing the necessary reporting and QA. Interface Manager is a modular software suite that can integrate with existing ERP and business systems to drive a full range of inbound and outbound services, in other scenarios it can work as a standalone application.

 

At QVC it controls a complex automation solution incorporating order selection, packing, label design and print for manual and auto label functions as well as bulk order print. Acting as a Warehouse Control System Interface Manager handles all automated and manual pack requests and print functions for both packslip and label. It provides a single point of control for outbound order processing.

 

Its key customer benefits are that client IT input is at a minimum and that all functions are controlled by a single software package which communicates with all functions and collates data for processing and reporting. Moreover Interface Manager has a library of protocol convertors to enable direct communications with the wide range of automation solutions installed.

 

A Real time pack solution was installed on some lines, whereby the pack slip data is delivered by Interface Manager in real time to a laser print and apply system provided by Logopak. Conveyor Networks convey pack slips in synchronisation with the product. Product and slip are then merged and presented to an Intelligent bagging machine, which trims the bag size to both width and length of product, ensuring the optimal bag size for the packed product. The automated solution increases the pack line efficiency as the printing labelling and bag solution are integrated with the product flow automatically, Interface Manager scans both SKU and pack slip to ensure integrity.

 

Other parts of the QVC solution include:

 

  • A unique OSL solution (Over ship Label) where packslips are applied direct to a shipping carton and over-labelled.
  • This eliminates the need for Document wallets and reduces processing times.
  • A bulk print facility where Interface Manager delivers print commands to numerous bulk printers.
  • A high speed sorter interface and several hundred metres of conveyor.
  • A SCADA system.

 

Interface Manager can either reside on dedicated servers or in a virtual environment as is the case here, but a key factor in either case is resilience, this was a priority and a robust communications specification was developed – including rigorous testing criteria – between Conveyor Networks and QVC’s IT teams. Every module of Interface Manager was rigorously tested as was the integration into QVC’s network. Conveyor Networks can remotely access Interface Manager and the control system to address any issues and they can see exactly what QVC can.

 

Interface Manager drives volumes of over 6000 units per hour and can be interrogated at any time for a real time status report on the outbound warehouse operations. It is capable of handling even larger volumes related to appropriate automation needs.

The end results
  • Real time, customer specific KPI data available from Interface Manager.
  • Reduced labour costs, increased efficiency, improved customer experience
  • 24/7 support with remote access for PLC and high level WCS software systems.