AutoStore™ Black Line at PUMA is helping to meet growing e-commerce demand by increasing capacity by 10x.
Founded in 1948 in Herzogenaurach, Germany, PUMA has a long history in sports. As one of the world’s top sports brands, it is synonymous with speed. Named after the large cat, founder Rudolph Dassler wanted athletes wearing his gear to have the speed, agility, and smoothness of a puma.
This goal the company continues with such historic events as the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin when Jesse Owens won four gold medals while wearing Dassler spikes. And in modern times with Usain Bolt.
Today PUMA is the third-largest sports retailer in the world, designing and manufacturing athletic and casual apparel, footwear, and accessories. PUMA distributes its products to over 120 countries and, in the USA, the company has built a new distribution center in Indianapolis, Indiana, to meet its growing online business.
“The reason that we went with the AutoStore Black Line is because it was the next evolution of the Red Line. It keeps going and going, and allows us, again, to achieve the speed.”
“Our mantra is ‘Forever Faster’. We're here to be the fastest sports brand in the world,” explains Bob Philon, President and CEO of PUMA North America.
The mantra applies to all parts of business for PUMA. Not only serving the fastest athletes, but also fast with innovation, trends, and solving problems for their customers.
“In our business it’s innovate or die,” continues Philon. “It sounds brutal, but I really feel you're either moving forward and you're using technology and automation and innovation to get better, or you're going backwards.”
Listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the company has been moving toward bigger growth since 2013 when former football professional Bjørn Gulden became CEO. In the United States in 2019, working with their third-party logistics provide, NFI Cal Cartage, PUMA began to evaluate its long-term growth strategy.
It was decided a new distribution center was needed to meet growing demand and better service its growing U.S. customer base, especially on the East Coast and in the Midwest.
In 2016, PUMA and NFI Cal Cartage, who manages the building and daily operations, saw tremendous improvements on their operations when they installed the AutoStore Red Line, empowered by Bastian Solutions, in a Torrance, California, distribution center (DC). This allowed PUMA to expand its order fulfillment services from only shipping out footwear for e-commerce orders to consolidating its fulfillment locations into a single facility. For the next four years, PUMA distributed all its different apparel, accessories, and footwear lines from here.
But even with the modularity and expansion ease of AutoStore, PUMA realized they were running out of space and capacity at the Torrance facility.
“To be honest, we were about to burst in Torrance,” shares Philon. “If you look at our business and the acceleration we had planned… we felt we needed to investigate a secondary distribution center.”
So, PUMA and NFI Cal Cartage settled on a center located near Indianapolis, Indiana, to better serve its customers.
The focus became how to reach the 75% of its customers located on the East Coast. Working with Bastian Solutions, PUMA and NFI Cal Cartage decided on AutoStore and its new Black Line and Router software. The Indianapolis DC is designed to handle high volume and low unit orders, perfect for e-commerce.
“The reason we went with the AutoStore Black Line is because it was the next evolution of the Red Line. It keeps going and going, and allows us to achieve the speed,” says John Amato, Senior Vice President at NFI Cal Cartage.
“AutoStore has helped PUMA better serve the customer because of the speed to market. We're competing in the world of Amazon, where everyone expects something within one day. So, getting the order out as quickly as possible is really the goal. And the AutoStore solution helps us do that,” explains Melissa Curry, Regional VP of Operations for NFI Cal Cartage.
While speed is important, another development of AutoStore in partnership with PUMA was the creation of a new Bin size. The Black Line includes a 425mm Bin, designed to allow for the storage of shoeboxes on their end which means more boxes fit in a Bin creating even greater storage density in the AutoStore grid.
“What we are realizing in Indianapolis and the ability of the Black Line... First, it's fast. Superfast. There is no downtime. So, we can be active 24/7. And the Bins are bigger, helping us service our growing footwear business there in Indianapolis,” explains Philon.
Utilizing the AutoStore Black Line is also improving operations. The company is seeing a 25% increase in Bin deliveries per hour, and it has allowed PUMA to increase capacity more than 10times. It also set the company up to manage increased order intake during COVID and is on track to help the brand ramp up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“We are right now a year in Black Friday. Since March 2020, we have pretty much every day a Black Friday business. Even 50% more we serviced over the regular Black Friday,” shares Helmut Leibbrandt, PUMA Senior VP Supply Chain, Americas.
The Indianapolis DC has greatly impacted PUMA’s operations. From the increase in Bin delivers per hour, to reduced shipping times and the ability to quickly train new staff, the AutoStore system and additional warehouse automation designed by Bastian Solutions is providing support for PUMA to move into the future.
“This AutoStore system is significantly faster,” tells Curry. “It has allowed us to ship out more e-commerce orders this past November than we have in the history of the account.”
PUMA designed the Indianapolis faculty with expansion in mind. The current grid will hold up to 305,000 Bins making it the largest AutoStore in North America. The grid itself takes up about 12,356 square meters (133,000 square feet), not quite three American football fields in a facility campus covering 59,457 square meters (640,000 square feet). While not at 100% capacity, there are only 150,000 Bins currently in process, this grid is ready for increased production through the addition of more Bins and CarouselPorts.
“The AutoStore solution is a very flexible solution… you can easily add Bins, you can easily add Robots, you can easily add pick Ports, you can easily add receiving Ports. So, it's a very, very flexible system. Therefore, we have also been able to choose AutoStore,” states Leibbrandt.
“It has been a great advancement onto what was already a success in Torrance in the Red Line,” says Philon. “I think if you are a CEO, and you are not looking at those advantages, I think you're crazy.”
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.