Case Studies - Rocky Brands storage system, blue and yellow racking system in warehouse

Distribution and Fulfillment for Retail and eCommerce: Rocky Brands

Case Study Overview:

Rocky Brands recognized the need to enhance their distribution center’s efficiency and overcome operational challenges. They struggled with a slow pick rate, congested aisles, and manual induction processes. Rocky Brands turned to ETi for innovative solutions to drive productivity and streamline operations.

Client Background:

Rocky Brands designs, develops, and manufactures footwear and and other outdoor and work apparel and accessories. They partnered with ETi improve their material handling processes, boost productivity, and overcome operational challenges through optimization.

Key Findings from On-site Assessment:

  1. Slow Pick Rates: Congestion in the aisles and excessive horizontal travel contributed to slow pick rates, negatively impacting overall productivity.
  2. Manual Induction Processes: Manual induction of picked products led to slower pick rates and added handling steps, further impeding efficiency.
  3. Underutilized Downstream Infrastructure: Rocky Brands previously made a substantial invested in a downstream infrastructure that was significantly underutilized and incorrectly configured. This setup greatly hampered operational performance.
  4. Sorting System Constraint: The sorter faced a constraint in its initial configuration due to a poorly configured recirculation line. This hampered throughput despite the possibility of achieving higher mechanical rates.

Smart Systems Solutions Approach:

  • Four-Level Pick Module: Implementing a four-level pick module equipped with a pick-to-light system. This streamlined picking processes and enabled picks to be placed directly onto a takeaway belt.
  • Automated Takeaway and Accumulation: Introducing automated takeaway systems with significant additional accumulation. The result optimized material flow and enhancing throughput.
  • Sorter Recirculation Line Reconfiguration: Doubling the sorter’s throughput by reconfiguring the recirculation line, optimizing sorting processes and eliminating the previous system constraint.
  • Barcode/Label-Based Routing Controls: Implementing controls for routing based on barcode and label information. These controls ensured accurate and efficient sorting and distribution.
  • Bypass Line for Single-Item Orders: Introducing a bypass line that allows single-item orders to bypass the shipping scale. This bypass line increased throughput and accelerated processing for improved efficiency.
  • VNA Racking System: Deploying a high-density Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) racking system, maximizing storage capacity and optimizing space utilization.

System Installation & Implementation:

ETi managed the entire system’s conception, design, procurement, and concurrent implementation for Rocky Brands. Close coordination with the Rocky Brands operations team ensured minimal interruption to the daily workflow. Key work was performed during off-hours, and the sorter cutover was expertly coordinated over consecutive weekends. ETi ensured a seamless implementation that was delivered on time and within budget by adjusting the project schedule to accommodate an earlier delivery requirement due to an acquisition.

Results and Benefits:

ETi empowered Rocky Brands to overcome operational inefficiencies, achieve improved throughput, reduce labor dependency, and expand their storage capacity by addressing key challenges and leveraging innovative solutions. ETi’s commitment to delivering tailored solutions, on-time implementation, and exceptional results exemplifies our position as a trusted industry leader.


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