Last week, the Tarheel Chapter of CSCMP toured the Performance Bicycle distribution center in Chapel Hill, NC.

They are the #1 cycling-specific retailer in the US and market through a catalog, web site, and 84 retail stores. 60% of their business is done through the retail stores. The facility is 120,000 square feet and ships 1 million packages per year with an average of 5-7 items per box. per customer. 135,000 bicycles were shipped in 2008. They recycle stretch wrap, banding, corrugated, and paper.

This center is a “paperless” environment in which personnel record all inventory transactions by using hand-held computers. All product movements from storage, to picking, to the shipping dock are updated in real-time.  Time, date, and user ID are electronically stamped on each activity. Every box has a unique LPN or locator case number  assigned at receiving and every item is weighed and measured and data is entered in the system.

The warehousing space is configured specifically for each of the three primary activities that occur there. The first area is designed for receiving and bulk storage of full case merchandise. The second area is for non-conveyable large cartons, and the third area, which contains the two-level pick module.

Each pick ticket designates what size box the order should go in; these boxes are built and then put on the conveyor line with the ticket. A label is applied which directs the zones required. There is logic built in to ensure that soft goods such as sunglasses are not packaged with padlocks. When someone orders a bicycle and a helmet, they are shipped separately. Once the orders are picked and packed, they are conveyed directly into a truck for delivery.

The group of 33 professionals from many different businesses enjoyed a group presentation and then tour of the facility.