Cosmetics retailer optimizes logistics processes with intelligent automation

ICI Paris XL is a leading retailer for cosmetics and perfume in Benelux. From their 20,000 m² distribution center in Vilvoorde, Belgium, the company supplies 290 stores and fulfills the online orders for Belgium and the Netherlands. Thanks to their OSR Shuttle™ that started operation in 2017, the DC’s Supply Chain Manager, Patrick Willems, is certain that they are well-equipped for the rapidly growing online market, where faster shipping and the personalization of orders are increasingly more important. He provides us with glimpse inside the distribution center and talks about the challenges of the future, namely, sustainability, robots and monitoring productivity..

290 stores are supplied from the distribution center
High storage density due to triple-deep storage
Das Shuttle-System OSR Shuttle™ Evo beim Sportschuh- und Sportbekleidungshersteller ASICS. Automatisches Lagerlogistiksystem. Die Shuttles lagern Behälter ein und aus. Pro Ebene ist ein Shuttle auf Fahrschienen unterwegs. Das macht das automatische Lagersystem OSR Shuttle™ Evo besonders effizient im Einsatz.

ICI Paris XL relies on the OSR Shuttle™

The OSR Shuttle™ has been a success since its start at the ICI Paris XL distribution center in Vilvoorde. The system interacts with a pick-to-light system that processes the fast-moving items which are in most demand. Before purchasing their OSR Shuttle™, the beauty giant suffered from productivity issues, especially in processing the slow and medium movers. “Typical for our environment, we used shelf racks, which meant that our employees were walking great distances in order to fill orders. In this setting, errors were easily made, so the OSR Shuttle™ was a vast improvement here,” explains Patrick Willems.

The OSR Shuttle™ comprises four rack line systems with 20 levels. The 80 shuttles of the system are connected to four ergonomic Pick-it-Easy work stations. Since each work station can access all the goods in the storage system, orders can be completely processed at just one work station. Using optical sensors at the target locations as well as pick-to-light and a touch screen display of the item, high quality order fulfillment is now ensured. By combining a shuttle system with the work station, performance now clocks in at about 2,750 order lines an hour. In total, there are 26,000 storage locations for containers sized 600 x 400 x 220 mm (23.62 x 15.75 x 8.66 in.), whereby the containers can also be divided into quarters. The containers are stored triple-deep in the racks, providing the ultimate storage density. The building’s ceilings are about 7.5 meters (about 25 ft).

In our search for the right supplier, KNAPP had the best solution for us. Considering price, quality and performance, we selected the OSR Shuttle™ by KNAPP from three options.

Patrick Willems
Supply Chain Manager ICI Paris XL

square meters



work stations

storage locations

OSR Shuttle™

order lines

an hour

OSR Shuttle™ comprises

4 rack line systems with 20 levels

Distribution center becomes even more sustainable

The question regarding the maintenance and monitoring of sustainable logistics processes within a distribution center is an important topic for ICI Paris XL. A.S. Watson, the parent company behind ICI Paris XL has set an ambitious goal for 2030. The parent company has set the goal that, by then, the CO2 emissions from the Vilvoorde distribution center have to be reduced by 40 percent. They are additionally considering the use of energy-neutral urban logistics. “It used to be that only costs, service and quality were important; now, sustainability also plays an important role. Furthermore, I think that sustainability considerations will make the consumer willing to pay more for an order in an online shop.” ICI Paris is also thinking along the lines of a “choose your day” shipping model. The consumer can choose the day on which the order should be delivered. “This offers us additional opportunities to optimize transport.”

We are implementing many initiatives to make the business more sustainable, for example, loading trucks completely, using lightweight packaging and installing LED lighting in the distribution center.

Patrick Willems
Supply Chain Manager ICI Paris XL

Distribution that works even during the peaks

E-commerce is breaking new records year after year. The COVID-19 pandemic fueled a surge in online orders. The ICI Paris XL distribution center is expecting further growth here, above all for shopping events such as Black Friday or at the end of the year. “These annual sales peaks are getting bigger every year. We’ve had to increase our capacity almost tenfold,” states Patrick Willem.

The company increases its capacity during this time by adding a night shift, which also helps to keep the OSR system running around the clock. “The OSR Shuttle™ works exactly as expected since its startup in 2017,” reports Patrick Willems. To future-proof the distribution center for the coming years, ICI Paris XL is currently working on a comprehensive logistics concept.

Personalizing customer orders

Another challenge within the distribution center is personalizing customer orders. The consumer can soon choose from a large selection of patterns. Additionally, personalized messages and gift ribbons can be selected by the consumer with every order.

This is most likely just the right moment to begin with questions of automation in this growing market. Since the introduction of the OSR Shuttle™, we have been able to reduce errors and to increase our performance.

Patrick Willems
Supply Chain Manager ICI Paris XL

Ready for the future thanks to intelligent automation

Making the beauty giant future-proof has been given top priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has put even more pressure on the distribution center and the OSR Shuttle™ through an important expansion in the e-commerce department. “E-commerce skyrocketed because of COVID-19, so much, that our e-shop is now the largest part of the ICI Paris XL business. The expected growth in e-commerce has arrived much sooner than we anticipated.” There are plenty of challenges to go around for the supply chain team at ICI Paris XL.


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