Jim Sports’ facility and its automated aisle with a pallet stacker crane
Jim Sports automates and digitalises its sporting goods warehouse in Palas de Rei, Spain
Jim Sports, a sports equipment distributor, manages more than 17,000 product SKUs with an all-in-one solution: automation, software and storage systems.
The sports equipment distributor Jim Sports has equipped its warehouse with an integrated Mecalux solution: automation, digitalisation and pallet racking. The company monitors its merchandise in real time and organizes operations such as picking more effectively.
Jim Sports: more than 25 years supporting sports shops
Founded in 1997, Jim Sports is Spain’s largest sporting goods distributor. The company sells 30-plus brands that cater to all athletic needs, from balls and elliptical bicycles through to microfibre towels, rackets and goalposts.
- Founded in: 1997
- Headquarters: Palas de Rei (Spain)
- Brands: 30+
- International presence: 35+ countries
- Catalogue: 17,000+ SKUs
In recent years, Jim Sports has evolved and expanded at a rapid pace, increasing its presence in an ever-growing number of countries. “We had to modernise to adapt to business changes. To remain competitive, we needed to optimise our logistics processes,” says Marta Gontá, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Jim Sports.
Every day, Jim Sports’ 10,000 m² warehouse in Palas de Rei, Spain, ships 200 to 500 orders — depending on the season — to 3,500 sporting goods stores and facilities in 35 countries. The company has overhauled its logistics centre to handle the surge in workload.
“Initially, all warehouse operations were manual, from organising the merchandise through to allocating tasks among the workers. As the number of orders to fill and ship began to grow exponentially, we realised that optimising our operations was a must. We had to change,” says Gontá.
Mecalux equipped Jim Sports’ warehouse with a comprehensive solution featuring automation, software and storage systems. As a result, the logistics centre is now more expeditious in processes as complex as order fulfilment. “We decided to partner with Mecalux on this project because it’s a logistics solutions provider with a significant advantage: it can assist us 24 hours a day. Because of the nature of our business, we can’t afford to halt activity in our facility at any time. If an incident were to occur, we’d need a quick solution. This is something that Mecalux has provided us with, which sets it apart from other companies,” says Gontá.
The first step in transforming Jim Sports’ supply chain was to equip the logistics centre with a robotic solution from Mecalux: an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) with double-deep racking. With a height of 14 m, this solution provides capacity for 2,176 pallets. “We turned to automation due to our ongoing space challenges. With this system, our goal was to accommodate the highest number of products within the minimal space available,” says Gontá.
Jim Sports also had to simplify operations in its logistics facility and streamline order shipments. Assisting operators was essential for preparing orders as quickly as possible. To speed up processes, the distributor decided to install Mecalux’s Easy WMS warehouse management software. “With increasing order volumes, we had to hire more people. And the new operators aren’t necessarily familiar with all 17,000 SKUs in stock. The software is intuitive and user-friendly. From day one, pickers can fulfil orders by following instructions from the WMS on their RF scanners,” says Gontá.
Through digitalisation, Jim Sports has minimised any possibility of error and accelerated goods movements. Mecalux’s Easy WMS is a software program that adapts easily to changes in the company’s business. “We’ve updated the system to align it with our new needs and enhance performance. Before, for instance, a single operator would prepare an order from start to finish. Now, we’re more efficient because the whole process is done in a chain: some workers perform picking, while others package products, distribute orders or restock,” says Gontá.
Mecalux’s Easy WMS software is also modular: its functionalities can be expanded based on an organisation’s requirements. Jim Sports has implemented four additional digital solutions to address its new business scenarios:
- Warehouse Slotting Software: suggests a redistribution of storage locations based on turnover or orders received.
- Supply Chain Analytics Software: provides valuable data on the main warehouse activities to facilitate strategic decision-making that raises productivity.
- Multi Carrier Shipping Software: simplifies and expedites the packing, labelling and shipping processes. The program integrates with the carriers that distribute Jim Sports’ orders (namely SEUR, DB Schenker, Correos and CBL).
- Account Directives: personalises and aligns warehouse processes with the particular needs of each customer.
A day in the Jim Sports logistics centre
“Our catalogue is extremely large and varied. We have more than 30 brands, ranging from our own, such as Softee, through to exclusive distributions like Rox, Vibor-A, Wilson, ShockOut, Ball Rescuer and Mikasa. Managing such diverse products is our main challenge, but with Easy WMS, organising the merchandise is much simpler,” says Gontá.
Jim Sports’ logistics centre is divided into different work spaces, namely the storage, picking, packing and shipping areas. Every day, the facility receives a multitude of SKUs sent by suppliers in Asia, chiefly Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan.
In the receiving zone, operators read the barcodes on the merchandise and Easy WMS then records them in the database and assigns them a location. Each item has a defined profile with specifications — e.g., size and demand level — which the software takes into account when deciding on a slot for it. “Imagine we receive bathing suits in October. It would be impractical to store them in the more accessible locations because they probably won’t be sold until next summer,” says Gontá.
“With such a high number of SKUs in stock, order is crucial in our warehouse. Thanks to Easy WMS, we now organise our goods much more effectively. With everything in its place, our operators can carry out their tasks with greater peace of mind. The work has become a lot simpler,” says Gontá.
Once the products are stored in their corresponding slots, picking takes place. In their designated zones, operators gather all the merchandise they require using a cart. They prepare orders by batch, meaning several are put together at once on a single run. After the orders are completed, they are moved to the packing area. There, operators verify that each one contains the items requested and that no mistakes were made.
The packing area is equipped with five work tables. Depending on the contents and destination of the shipments, they are packaged at one table or another. “For example, if an order has at least one bulky product, it will be packed at a specific table. We also have another table reserved for orders that contain fewer than 5 items, another for those with 6 to 12 and one more for orders exceeding a dozen items. This work organisation prevents interference with other processes,” says Gontá.
The last step consists of distributing the goods. In the shipping area, next to the loading docks, orders are grouped by carrier. The Mecalux software interfaces with the transport agencies, transmitting all necessary information to ensure on-time deliveries.
Integrated solution for the logistics centre
Jim Sports’ supply chain is constantly changing to adjust to fluctuations in demand and the market. Over the past few years, the company has tackled the challenge of fulfilling a growing number of orders in the shortest time possible and for an expanding list of countries. “Our customers are sporting goods stores that have seen an upturn in sales and need to deliver orders ASAP. Jim Sports’ priority is to supply them without delay,” says Gontá.
With an end-to-end solution from Mecalux featuring automation, software and storage systems, the sports equipment distributor is prepared to accelerate its pace of expansion. “Shifts in demand compel us to enhance our processes. We’re aware that the way we used to work hindered our growth. But by automating and digitalising our logistics operations, we’ve transitioned from a small company to a sizeable enterprise capable of satisfying more customers,” says Gontá.
Our logistics operations are complex, with a wide variety of SKUs and customers. Easy WMS has become an indispensable tool for all our processes, especially considering our high daily order volumes and the massive quantity of different SKUs we stock. Managing such a large amount of merchandise manually is infeasible.