A smaller footprint and greater speed for sorting garments in the warehouse
Marina Rinaldi is a fashion company founded in 1980, part of the Max Mara Fashion Group. The design philosophy behind the construction of the latest system produced by Metalprogetti was to seek the ideal compromise between the size of the machine and its efficiency in order preparation, rejecting mechanical storage in favour of a “full-empty” logic.
Marina Rinaldi has worked with Metalprogetti for over 30 years, during which time it has installed 3 different systems. The most recent dates back to 2018, when the company went through a period of immense change from a distribution and sales point of view: the expansion of the online market (B2B, B2C, B2E) made it necessary to keep a vast selection in stock, sharing space in the warehouse with traditional planned purchases, i.e. the seasonal orders made in advance by stores.
With this new development, Marina Rinaldi’s problem with its previous system was one of floor space: the machine continued to take up the same, considerable amount of space required for storage prior to sorting (i.e. extracting) the garments, even when it was empty.. This area ate into valuable floor space for online stock, an issue which became even more critical during changes of season. In fact, it is during those periods that storage is at its fullest, despite relatively limited quantities of garments to be delivered for planned purchases.
Another factor to be taken into consideration is a high rate of order splitting, based on the average client order, an environmental variable which cannot be altered.
Therefore, the priority when designing the new machine was not so much to save on labour (though this remained an important aim, given the difficulty of finding qualified personnel), but to save space and speed up the transit of planned purchases.
Marina Rinaldi chose to turn once more to Metalprogetti to ensure the continuity of its journey. Its established and long-standing relationship with the company, which has always proven reliable and available even in the event of any difficulties, carried more weight than comparing prices with competitors or searching for the best performances as promised on paper.
The 3 stages of work in Marina Rinaldi’s programmed warehouse are:
- Loading the system
- Dialogue with the client’s warehouse management system (WMS)
- Asynchronous order preparation
Marina Rinaldi chose to install a small, speedy Metalprogetti system to handle stages 2 and 3. The system works on a full-empty concept: many items are loaded into it, many are taken out; only when the system is empty is it reloaded.
The entire process goes as follows:
The garments arrive in an intake and holding area; after quality control, those which have been accepted are entered into the area in front of the machine, an area which can be modulated as needed, within certain limits, as it is managed manually. At this point, the items of clothing are certified and can be processed for the clients. Based on their volume, the garments are assigned a certain amount of space: it is determined in advance how many slots a given type of clothing will occupy in the machine in order to establish the production lots to be loaded (e.g. a miniskirt requires just one slot, equal to 33 mm, while a padded jacket may need 3 or 4).
Once loaded, the machine awaits instructions from the management system, which determines the outlet routes for the garments (i.e. their destinations inside the machine), before the process of sorting (extracting the garments) into 30 outlet bars. At the end of this stage, the machine is empty once again and ready to receive a new load.
Many results have been achieved with the new order preparation system from Metalprogetti:
- Space savings
The systemis organised across two levels, making use of previously unused areas and reducing the surface areaonce dedicated to mechanical storage before sorting.
The new configuration cut out the need to make structural changes to the architecture of the warehouse itself: in fact, the building is protected by the Belle Arti Heritage Board, and is subject to industrial archaeology restrictions.
- Production time savings
Each garment is processed in less than half the time compared to a fully manual handling process. The time saved per garment adds up to a clear saving in terms of labour time.
- Labour cost savings
The machine requires 3 operators, with an economic saving for the company of65% on pure labour costs, compared to fully manual handling.
- Fewer errors
The automated system guarantees extreme reliability compared to the manual managementof the process. This is a particularly important bonus for a brand like Marina Rinaldi, whose garments come with a considerable price tag.
- Shared, efficient computerisation
Marina Rinaldi and Metalprogetti were able to easily define the exchange tracks that handle sorting and there was a shared vision regarding the data-sharing logic that governs the system. The system works asynchronously, it is a black box which optimises its own movements autonomously; it receives instructions and provides a response when the process is complete.
This is in addition to rapid assistancefollowing the machine’s entrance into operation, which meets the technical needs of the fashion company.