Nike Apparel

Nike’s European distribution centre in Laakdal, Belgium serves markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The 200,000 m2 facility houses 3 operations - one for apparel, one for footwear and one for sports equipment - which share a common, high-bay warehouse. 
In the past, Nike had warehousing operations in 20 European countries. They decided to consolidate their European distribution operation to provide customers with all items in the product range, while reducing costs and enhancing efficiency. The facility was opened in 1994. 
Vanderlande built the material handling system. Since the opening, Nike has partnered with Vanderlande to make several adjustements to the existing system. Within Nike, the Supply Chain is considered as one of its key pillars, considering the competitive advantage it can bring to the company. They felt a focused capacity and service optimisation program was required to support their growth (capacity) and to safeguard and improve their Supply Chain capabilities (service related). Objectives of the program were: a) Capacity and efficiency improvements, related to resolving the capacity bottlenecks and support business growth at an optimal supply chain cost, b) Lead time improvements, related to realising increased operational flexibility, essential to support more complex and demanding supply chain models. While redesigning some of their processes and processing areas, they placed high emphasis on incorporating employee related benefits.

Facts & figures         

System 
  • Movable telescopic conveyors to unload trucks 
  • Inbound sortation system
  • High bay storage for pallets and cartons
  • Items are stored in baskets or on shelves. Operators use pick trolleys supported by voice picking
  • Pre-sort via tilt-tray sorter
  • Final sort via tilt-tray sorter into shipping cartons 
  • Transportation to shipping docks, where cartons are loaded onto trucks by telescopic conveyors
  • ‘Transport highway’: A loop circuit facilitates transport between all the various parts of the facility
  • Waste carton handling
Process
  • Inbound (goods received in containers from various countries) 
  • Sorting and manual palletisation 
  • Inbound to high bay storage (pallet trucks)
  • High bay storage of pallets (40 aisles)
  • Cartons sent to picking 
  • Item picking (batch picking concept) from: 
    > baskets
    > shelves
  • Value Added Services, such as:
    > price tags
    > hangers
    > size labels
    > Primary and final sortation
    > Packing in outer cartons
    > Shipping
 
Benefits
  • Ability and flexibility to handle significant business growth, both in terms of volume (double-digit yearon-year growth) and product range (as result of Nike’s brand strategy)
  • Ability and flexibility to handle increasing supply chain complexity (customised supply chain solutions for customers, for example tailored Value Added Services)
  • Lead time improvement, faster order throughput
  • Better ergonomics, user friendliness, safety for employees
  • Higher productivity, efficiency

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