Next generation packing line improves throughput and data handling

Warehouse automation and software provider Conveyor Networks have further developed their partnership with QVC UK providing a new automated bagging line at their warehouse in Knowsley.

The new line forms Phase 3 of a relationship that began in 2013 with the installation of 2 fully automated packing lines.  These were followed by bespoke software development in 2015 to provide data and user software interfaces for table top baggers in QVC’s jewellery packing area.

Scalable solutions

Conveyor Networks warehouse software platform “imio”, links the automation and QVC’s higher level WMS software.  Its micro services based architecture has meant that Phase 3 has required minor software changes to integrate it into the current system.  This de-risked the installation, removed the need for additional testing and made the commissioning process shorter and simpler.

Phase 3 takes advantage of recent developments to the Conveyor Networks automated packing solution, and incorporates more innovative ways of handling the products and increasing the throughput.

Robust performance

The next generation packing line from Conveyor Networks is capable of much higher throughputs:  Up to 1,200 per hour on this 3rd line, Vs previous run rates of 900 per hour on the former 2 lines, enabling QVC to yet further improve their already competitive delivery service.

  1. Allowing larger data processing windows. The data from the initial product scan (when the product is placed on the conveyor) is sent to imio earlier in the sequence allowing faster processing and response.
  2. Robust data handling. If the information from imio is delayed in reaching the PLC, the PLC executes an instruction to pause the conveyor until the response is received.  This means that the products and packslips stay in sequence reducing the error rate.
  3. An additional piece of imio functionality has been added at the printing stage. Once the label has been printed, an extra scan takes place and imio checks the information against the original product scan to verify that both items match.

A wide range of products including cartons, bags and packets are handled by the system.  Products are placed manually onto the conveyor, the product barcode is scanned and sent via the PLC to imio.  If the product information matches a customer order, imio sends a print instruction to the printers.  The correct packslip is printed and placed onto a separate conveyor where it is merged with the product.  Both product & packslip then progress on a single conveyor to the bagger.

Automation and software

Conveyor Networks’ software platform – imio – links seamlessly with QVC’s other IT systems, providing real time data transfer between the shop floor automation and the higher level host systems.  The software platform uses the information to instruct the PLC so that the operation runs effectively with minimal error rates.  QVC use the data that imio aggregates for reporting analysis.

Developed from an ‘automation up’ perspective (not ‘ERP down’, as is the case with the majority of WMS solutions on the market) imio is capable of growing alongside the automation operations and is a robust, scalable, easily deployed warehouse suite with a modern GUI.

Notes for Editors

About Conveyor Networks

Conveyor Networks are a UK based systems integrator and solutions provider founded in 2009 by David Carroll and Geoff Wooding.  Working from design and build through to servicing and maintenance, the company offers retail and ecommerce businesses of all sizes, best-in-class warehouse software and automation solutions.  They engineer their own software called “imio” which is a modular warehouse management system, and can run everything from conveyors and sortation, to packing lines, fully automated processes and carrier integration.

About imio Software Solutions

imio began life as a software interface to complement the automation solutions offered by Conveyor Networks Limited. Although still part of Conveyor Networks, demand for imio software has grown to the extent it is now a separate sister company of Conveyor Networks.

About QVC UK

QVC UK combines digital retailing, live TV reaching 27 million UK homes, and a buzzing social media hub to create the most engaging shopping experience. QVC UK is a department store selling big name brands like Amanda Wakeley, Lulu Guinness, Benefit, Elemis, Nails Inc, Kelly Hoppen, Biba, Links of London, Apple and Dyson.  QVC UK has been awarded the ‘Top Employer’ Award for four consecutive years and was named Best in Retail and ranked 2nd overall in all categories at the 2016 Top 50 Companies for Customer Service Awards.  Visit qvcuk.com to learn more.

About QVC Global

Every day, in nine countries and counting, QVC engages millions of shoppers in a journey of discovery through an ever-changing collection of familiar brands and fresh new products, from home and fashion to beauty, electronics and jewellery. Along the way, we connect with shoppers via live dialog, engaging stories, interesting personalities and award-winning customer service. Founded in 1986, QVC has more than 17,000 employees and has retail operations in the U.S., Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, France, and through a joint venture in China.  Worldwide, QVC engages shoppers via 15 TV channels reaching more than 360 million homes, seven websites, and 195 social pages. Visit corporate.qvc.com to learn more.

QVC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation and is attributed to the QVC Group tracking stock (NASDAQ: QVCA, QVCB). Liberty’s QVC Group also includes zulily, a digital retailer obsessed with bringing customers special finds every day at incredible prices. zulily has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation since October 2015.

Among mass merchants, the combined QVC Group (including QVC and zulily) is the #3 mobile retailer in the U.S. and the #8 mobile retailer globally according to Internet Retailer. QVC, Q, and the Q Ribbon Logo are registered service marks of ER Marks, Inc.

For more information on Liberty Interactive Corporation, visit www.libertyinteractive.com.