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P&A Group

The P&A Group of Companies is a family-run business with a long-standing timber heritage that has operated for over five generations. Now a multi-award-winning timber business based in North Wales, the organisation operates six divisions including The Woodworks Garden Centre, Zest4Leisure, Zest4Leisure Direct, Pallets, Fencing & Timber and St Andrews Business Centre.

P&A Group worked with the Data Innovation Accelerator (DIA) to develop a novel process to automate and improve the packing strategy of their irregular shaped freight. An improved packing strategy would enable an increase in load capacity across the 2,500-3,000 truckloads per year delivering goods to their retail customers. This in turn would create a substantial saving in operational costs and reduce the carbon footprint of the company.

The DIA worked closely with the company to understand their existing processes and constraints and to gather data on their product catalogue. At the end of the engagement, the DIA provided P&A group with a bespoke software platform that created a highly efficient packing solution for each order and generated step-by-step packing instructions for their warehouse staff.

By tailoring the solution to their specific requirements, the DIA were able to accelerate the packing algorithm to allow a reasonable solution to be generated in nearly real-time. This approach was tested on live orders and compared favourably with packing choices made by experienced P&A Group warehouse staff.

The long-term benefits of this approach will lead to a reduced requirement for vehicle usage and a consistent approach to stacking, even with temporary staff. P&A group now plans to develop the business further by obtaining a Warehouse Management System to enable scanning of products onto pallets and vehicles.

A spokesperson for the company said: “We found the exercise to be enlightening and helped us question our current processes. The team from the DIA were approachable and a great team to work with.”