LIMA — Procter & Gamble is celebrating 50 years in Lima, and its distribution center warehouse is celebrating a 10-year anniversary.
The Lima P&G distribution center is a massive building, 1.1 million square feet, said Jon Tuttle, site logistics leader at the distribution center. You could take the Empire State Building and lay it inside the plant from the entrance to the back, and it would fill the plant with the length of a football field to spare, he said.
“We have 450 acres of land with 30 acres under roof,” Tuttle said. “We can store over 100,000 pallets here of finished product (or 2,500 truckloads of pallets).”
The center employs 40 P&G employees, who run the automated equipment. FedEx Courier Company is the third-party logistics provider, and more than 130 FedEx employees work at the center loading and unloading the outbound and non-automated inbound trucks, Tuttle said.
Each day, the distribution center ships out more than 200, 53-foot long trailers packed with about 40 pallets of products per shipment. Shipments can weigh around 43,000 pounds, he said. Shipments consist of laundry detergent, perfumes, feminine hygiene products and other things P&G makes. These shipments can either ship to other P&G distribution centers to be mixed with with other items the customers ordered to form mixed orders or shipped to customer distribution centers, Tuttle said.
The distribution center warehouse is split into two sides and two ends. The front end of the warehouse, “low side,” is set aside for assembly of customized specialty displays, which are built by groups of P&G employees working at the distribution center.
The far end of the plant, “high side,” is used for storage of packing materials which are shipped out to the P&G plant when needed, Tuttle said. After the raw materials are assembled, it’s sent back to the distribution center, where it’s stored on pallets until it’s shipped out to customers.
One side of the building is used specifically for inbound shipments from P&G plants and other customer shipments. Trucks with shipments from P&G sites come on automated trailers stacked one pallet high and are unloaded by automated, laser-guided vehicles, driver-less fork lifts.
“Inbound shipments are what fills the plant with raw materials,” Tuttle said, “empty bottles, caps and different raw materials like perfumes and liquids.”
The LGVs remove pallets from the trailer and transport them to a conveyor belt, which is the entrance for the automated shelving system. The vehicles are programmed to recognize any irregularities in weight distribution on the pallets and sets aside any which don’t “feel” correct.
Tuttle said everything in the automated system must be precise. An uneven or broken pallet could get stuck in the system on its way to the proper location, and someone would have to go in and fix the problem. Things could go wrong, and someone could get hurt doing that, he said.
The other side of the distribution center is used for outbound trucks.
“We get the orders in from our central logistics group based out of Cincinnati, and so we know what orders we need,” Tuttle said. “FedEx will ensure the orders are staged, and they’ll load up the trucks.”
The forklift operators have tablets with them, so they can see what items they will being packing in the trailer. The system tells them the most effective way to pack the pallets. The shelving system has three levels and is split into multiple sections on each level. Pallets move from their place in the storage system to the front, where the system activates either a red light or green light, telling forklift operators which pallets to take and pack first and which to save until later.
The LGVs can’t be used for packing outbound trucks because they are incapable of packing as precisely as human operators can.
Tuttle said there are no plans to expand at this time, but with more than 400 acres of land, P&G has plenty of space to use if the company intended to add anything at the distribution center.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362