Simulating an Automated Breakpack System to Improve Warehouse Efficiency and Operations

This case study focuses on the simulation of a soon-to-be-implemented automation system within a Walmart Canada warehouse. This new system's aim is more efficient warehouse operations. Many SKUs (stock-keeping units) cannot be sent to retail stores in full case quantities. They are slow movers and would require individual stores to carry excessive inventory.

Breakpack is the process of breaking cases down to individual eaches (pieces) and combining them into mixed SKU cartons. Automating breakpack offers significant labor and quality savings, that are important to ensure efficient warehouse operations, but also a high degree of complexity.

SKUs should be grouped to minimize labor during the store put-away process. Meanwhile, there is also an attempt to minimize labor and transportation cost for the warehouse and overall supply chain.

This case study will review the simulation model used to:

  • Help the retailer understand the SKU profile that should be used for breakpack automation.
  • Understand the best way to schedule the decanting operation.
  • Understand the store friendliness of cartons generated by the system.

With the task to increase the efficiency of warehouse operations, MOSIMTEC designed and developed a flexible AnyLogic-based discrete-event simulation model. This allowed Walmart engineers to test the impact of storing various SKUs in the breakpack system’s automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). The model allowed engineers to test a variety of demand patterns and various SKU profiles. The tool allowed Walmart Canada to seed the model with specific, historical SKU data and also examine profiles that may only exist in the future.

Watch the presentation from WinterSim 2020 or download the paper.


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