With a huge fleet of ferries and Europe’s broadest route network, Stena Line had their work cut out to ensure accurate ordering and tracking of alcohol, tobacco and luxury goods for every ship, whatever its destination. Astro WMS® keeps everything shipshape.

Leading the way

A Swedish, family-owned company with a fleet of 38 ships, Stena Line brings over 14 million people safely to their destination every year. As the largest ferry operator in Europe, with 22 routes across the North Sea, Irish Sea and Scandinavia, it’s no small task to ensure that the wide range of duty free and luxury products available to passengers is kept fully stocked on every vessel. Even without taking into consideration complex tax and customs regulations, the challenges of efficient warehouse management are obvious.

Goodbye manual mistakes

Stena Line ferryThere’s no room for error in shipping. An order arriving an hour late might find that the ship it was destined for has already sailed. One that came to the wrong ship would create problems throughout the fleet.

Until recently, Stena Line relied on a manual system to keep track of stock and orders. Tax documentation and customs regulations on products such as alcohol and tobacco were also completed manually, with different requirements in every country.

The method proved time-consuming, unreliable and vulnerable to human error. The company looked for a WMS that enabled tracking of deliveries from the central warehouse in Malmö to all other delivery hubs and would meet the stringent needs of regulatory bodies across Europe; inventory tracking had to be simple and tax and customs ‘paperwork’ had to be transformed into a smooth, automated process. Astro WMS® automatically feeds this information into a separate system for tax and EMCS (Excise Movement and Control System) documentation.

Back on course with Astro WMS®

Stena Line trucks entering a ferryStena Line looked at several alternatives before choosing Astro WMS®. It benchmarked several other systems, but settled for Astro WMS®, as it was modular and easily scalable – perfect for Stena Line’s needs.

Since installing the system, Stena Line has gained complete control and visibility of stock and inventory delivered to different ships at ports all over Europe. Volumes increased significantly, and productivity is expected to follow suit.

Returned orders are a thing of the past, meaning increased efficiency and massive cost savings. Accurate stock and quantities ensure passengers can buy any item they want in any location, boosting profits and growing business opportunities on every crossing.

Easy does it

The user-friendliness of Astro WMS® was vital to Stena Line. Because of the industry’s seasonal nature, warehouse staff numbers fluctuate between 12 in the low season up to 30 at peak travel times, so training temporary staff was a challenge.

Stena Line FerriesWith the old system, getting new workers up to speed could last two weeks or more. With Astro WMS®, training takes less than half a day and the system is so easy to use that pickers can input efficiently and intuitively from day one. And it shows – with order volumes up and returns significantly down, the system is already proving its worth.

We had our fingers burnt when we implemented a scanner-based system a few years ago. The company we’d partnered with were based in Florida. When issues came up, they weren’t able offer us the help we needed and the project failed.” Says Magnus Persson, Logistics Manager for Stena Line. “It’s great to know that Consafe Logistics is close at hand and understands our business. They respond immediately on the few occasions need help“.

New rollouts planned

Thanks to the success of Astro WMS®, Stena Line plans further rollouts of the system in Gothenburg, Hook of Holland, Holyhead and Gedinja.

Soon, individual ships will track orders throughout the delivery process, and can see what they’ll receive, and when it will arrive.

We are also looking at upgrading certain tasks with voice picking“, says Magnus. “Especially in areas such as perfumes, where huge volumes of small items are picked. Voice will make it easier and more cost-efficient to create accurate orders for the whole fleet“.