Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is a nationally recognized wine and spirits distributor known for its commitment to delivering the highest standards of customer service, as well as its state-of-the-art distribution capabilities. Founded in 1968, Southern Wine & Spirits operates in 35 states and is the country’s largest wine and spirits distributor. The facility in Wilsonville distributes wine and non-alcoholic beverages to wholesalers within the state of Oregon with an accuracy rate of over 99%.
Hytrol and the integration partner worked closely with Southern Wine & Spirits to produce an automated and modular material handling system capable of accommodating current business demands, while also allowing for future expansion. The new system provides additional throughput capabilities and an increase in accurate order fulfillment. Due to the increase in productivity and employee morale within the new facility, Southern Wine & Spirits was also able to implement a four-day delivery schedule.
Shawn Youmans, Vice President of Operations at Southern Wine & Spirits, said the system cleared up several issues. “We have increased our throughput capacity of sortation by close to 38%,” said Youmans. “We’re able now to convert to a 4-day delivery schedule, whereas with the old system that wasn’t even something we could consider.
“The system allows us to get the product out on time, and the accuracy and reliability has gone up in the high 99 percentile, as well as the reliability to our customers in getting our crews in and out on time, and the trucks dispatched on time. The breakage has been reduced significantly with the new system.”
Josh Heinrich, Night Shift Manager at Southern Wine & Spirits, said, “It’s more productive and obviously more accurate and less labor intensive, because we now have the two conveyor lines.”
The multi-level system incorporates many unique applications of Hytrol equipment. A prime example is the use of the ProSort SC to sort product to one of four lanes according to destination. This horizontal belt sorter allows for an efficient and reliable method of tracking product to each divert station. The system also provides energy-efficient accumulation of product through the use of E24™ and EZLogic®. By using these advanced Hytrol technologies, Southern Wine & Spirits has the flexibility to grow and change with the industry, while reducing their total cost of ownership over time.
“The reliability of the system has been great,” said Youmans. “The operation of the facility and the implementation was one of the smoothest that I’ve experienced in my career.
“The Hytrol sorter has been a phenomenal piece of equipment. It’s had virtually zero problems since we’ve been operating, which is now going on a year and a half. It was something we looked at closely with our integration partner, and we decided on this particular piece of Hytrol equipment—the [SC horizontal belt] sorter—because of not only cost, but reliability, as well.”
Through strategic planning, the implementation of the system was executed in an efficient and timely manner. Southern Wine & Spirits was able to transition into the new facility, and within six months, the company was exceeding their initial goals.
Heinrich said, “Within three months, we were meeting our goals of 1,200 cartons sorted per hour, and then, within six months, we were hitting upwards of 1,600 cartons per hour.”
By fully understanding the needs of Southern Wine & Spirits, Hytrol and the integration partner were able to design the most efficient system for the customer’s growing business.
“I’d have to say we can share in the success of the Hytrol system on this project,” said Youmans. “It was one of the smoothest implementations that I’ve experienced in my career. The timeliness of [Hytrol] hitting their deadlines and goals, as well as the reliability of the hardware—the product that they put in, the Hytrol system—has been very accurate and has given us great success here in Wilsonville.
“Some of the key features that we have with this system, one in particular is called Strict Stop Sequence, which has allowed us to model our delivery needs and service our customers exactly the way they want us to. And that’s a software application, as well as some of the conveyor systems. So, we not only service our customers now on time, but we can deliver the product in a manner that they want.
“We needed something that would allow us to handle our current capacity, as well as prepare for future growth, and the building we selected, as well as the material handling system allows us to do that, both now and in the future.”
The goal for Hytrol and the integration partner is to design, manufacture, and implement systems that produce optimal results for the customer. The new system allows Southern Wine & Spirits to provide the most accurate order fulfillment, while creating an optimal experience for their customers.
“They were very helpful,” said Heinrich. “They helped us from start to finish. The Hytrol equipment has been outstanding, and it’s been all in all just a positive experience with both companies.”