Modular conveyor platform orchestrates material handling at Youngone
Efficiency up, complexity down: The MCP modular conveyor platform in Youngone's South Korean distribution center is making things move.

Youngone Corporation is an “old one" when it comes to the OEM business. Since 1974, the South Korean manufacturer has been supplying a wide range of athletic and outdoor apparel, footwear and outdoor equipment to a growing base of global customers. Among them is the well-known American outdoor fashion brand The North Face.

Business is booming. Last year alone, Youngone produced more than 44 million pieces of apparel in over 7,000 styles. The Seoul-based company generates revenues of around $1.4 billion annually with a workforce of more than 80,000. It has production facilities in Bangladesh, China, Viet Nam and El Salvador as well as Ethiopia and Uzbekistan.

What makes Youngone stand out among its competitors is the high degree of vertical integration it has achieved in these factories. Raw material production, fabric weaving, dyeing and finishing operations are located directly at or near the plants to increase efficiency and shorten lead times. The company is also among the first to deploy an innovative technique that fuses together separate garment parts instead of sewing them to produce a smooth, extra-strength, reliable and attractive finishing.

Hidden Asian player behind global brands

Apparel for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing and other sports activities accounts for the lion’s share of Youngone’s production: 87 percent. Shoes represents 10 percent and outdoor equipment such as sleeping bags and tents claim the remaining 3 percent. Although Youngone tends to be the hidden name behind popular athletic and outdoor brands such as Nike, Puma, Eddie Bauer and L.L.Bean, it was an official sponsor of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Sustainability has top priority

Over the past several years, Youngone has made several international investments to grow beyond its domestic Asian market. They include an 80-percent stake in Outdoor Research, a U.S. outdoor apparel maker, and a controlling stake in the Swiss bike company Scott. The latter investment is aimed primarily at strengthening the two companies’ joint business in bicycles and skis. Since 2011, Youngone has been distributing Scott products in Korea, Japan and China. Sustainability and eco-friendly management are top priorities. Youngone is frequently recognized for its industry best practices and sustainable operations. At its facilities in Bangladesh, where a sizable chunk of its production is located, the company operates its own waste water and recycling facility with no impact on the environment. It was the first manufacturer to establish such operations in the country.

Another ongoing project has been rehabilitating 2,500 acres of land purchased in 1999 in Bangladesh, now known as the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ). Over the past two decades, Youngone has planted more than 2 million trees and created 17 reservoirs that conserve more than 360 million gallons of water and control floods and sediment flow in neighboring settlements.

Automated distribution center in South Korea

A new growth area for Youngone is distribution. In August 2017, the company opened its first automated and centralized distribution center for The North Face outdoor fashion line in Incheon, South Korea. The three-level facility offers 13,000 square meters of space. A 19-meter-high automated rack, which extends from the first floor to the middle of the third floor, is capable of maintaining 140,000 carton boxes. The rack uses 11 stacker cranes to slide the boxes in and out, thus reduce manual handling.

We chose Interroll not only for their technological superiority. Their service makes the difference as they do not tolerate anything else than a perfect set-up.

Mira Park, Logistics Director

Modular conveyor platform MCP orchestrates material handling

Systems integrator Hyundai Elevator implemented the logistics system for the new distribution center. The company collaborated with Interroll to deliver a system that minimizes the complexity of Youngone’s material flow processes while maximizing the overall efficiency of the advanced distribution hub. Interroll’s Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP) connects each material flow process. While MCP modules on the first floor connect stacker cranes for receiving goods and managing dispatching, other modules on the second floor connect the Interroll Crossbelt Sorter as well as the new warehouse with the old one.

Interroll’s Crossbelt Sorter plays a critical role in the entire logistics system by handling 7,000 polybags and carton boxes per hour. The highly flexible and space-saving sorter operates on a patented mechanical basis, keeping electronic components to a minimum. The rotating drives work with up to 90 percent efficiency, offering energy savings of 50 percent compared to linear motors.

RFID-based real-time forecasting and verification system

The Incheon distribution hub is the industry’s first distribution center to use a real-time RFID-based forecasting and verification system with its carton boxes. Previously, up to 20 workers had to manually inspect 10 percent of the total input by opening boxes and polybags and check if the information on the labels and hang tags matched. Now all goods pass through an RFID gate that automatically rejects boxes if any information is wrong or missing.

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