A project for Coca-Cola Refreshments

The company

Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR) was recently formed by The Coca-Cola Company’s (TCCC) acquisition of the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) and the combination with TCCC’s North American operations (CCNA) which include “hotfill” and fountain syrup production. From a historical perspective, CCE was formed through the acquisition of independent bottler franchises across North America eventually acquiring approximately 80 percent of the distribution territory in the US and Canada with annual distribution volume of about 1.5 billion cases. Historically CCE’s warehouses, termed sales centers, were more focused on sales execution more than on optimizing DC operations. After the acquisition and merger of operations between CCE and CCNA the sales execution functions have been decoupled from specific facilities leaving the warehouses, now termed DC’s, to focus on optimizing warehousing and distribution operations. One of the big initiatives that CCR is undertaking is the stabilization, standardization and optimization of both the distribution center’s processes and layout. CCR has more than 350 distribution centers across North America.

The North Metro Distribution Center was built in the 1970's and occupies about 60k square feet. It receives products from CCR plants—for example, Coke, PowerAde, Dasani, and fountain—and from co-packers (vitaminWater, Monster Energy, etc.). North Metro DC stores them, and then ships them out to customers.

There are four types of customers:


Each product has a sell-by date, which is generally several months from the date of manufacture, but still soon enough that attention must be paid to FIFO.

The DC distributes about 500 skus. All product arrives on either “beverage pallets”, which are 36 inches by 36 inches, or else on standard GMA pallets. The smallest outgoing unit handled is the case.

The bulk storage area holds 30–40 skus, mostly in floor stack. Carbonated beverages can be stacked 3-high, while \rdquo;PET“ (plastic bottles) or non-carbonated drinks should be stacked only 2-high. Product that moves in volume, such as Coke Classic, Diet Coke, or Dasani water, are stored in lanes that are 13-pallet positions deep. Others are stored in shallower lanes. For any sku in bulk storage, any full-pallet pick is taken from bulk. There is no case-picking from bulk.

The case-picking area is a combination of floor stack, 2- and 3-deep push-back rack, and selective rack. All picking is off the ground floor, and the picking area is full restocked each night.

Very slow moving product is held in three sections of flow rack (four shelves in each), but only if two lanes provide at least five-days supply.

The case-pick area holds several days supply of each sku and three-quarters of all skus have their entire warehouse supply there. Most skus are received directly into the case-pick area (rather than into bulk storage, with later movement into case-pick).

Product has been laid out generally according to stackability, with, for example, cans of high-volume product at the start of the pick-path, so that order-pickers can build their pallets by layers. Small, or more fragile, or awkwardly shaped containers appear last on the pick-path so they will be picked last and can be placed on top of the pallet.

The largest aisles are 16 feet wide and all allow travel in both directions.

Here is a photo tour of the DC.

Warehouse operations

Orders are known 12–48 hours in advance of picking.

There are five order pickers on the first shift and four on the second shift. The third shift restocks.

The warehouse management system reorganizes each customer order into pallets, then sequences the picks according to what it thinks builds a stable pallet load.

Pick lists are printed out on paper and carried by the order-picker as he drives a pallet truck. The order-picker can read ahead and change the sequence of picks if he thinks it will reduce travel or build a better pallet.

If a sku needs restocking in the forward area, the order picker waits while a fork lift driver resupplies the picking area.

Goal of this project

Make the warehouse more efficient by improving layout, slotting, and order-picking.

Suggested approach


The company data is copyrighted and proprietary. You may use it for the purposes of this course only. If you would like to use it for something else, please contact me.

Data to be provided on CD directly to project groups.

First steps