Since implementing Astro WMS in 2009, KW Bruun Logistik has gained 57 per cent fewer errors and 20 per cent more order lines per day up to 2015, despite healthy growth in order volume and complexity. Read five recommendations on how to maximize yield from a WMS investment.
When a Danish or Swedish owner of a Citroën or Peugeot needs a new clutch, a new fuel pump or an engine heater installed at an authorised dealer, this triggers an order to KW Bruun Logistik A/S (KWBL), which picks, packs and distributes the spare part to the dealer.
“At present we have around 32,000 part numbers in stock, and that figure’s rising all the time. So are customers’ demands for a later order deadline, quicker delivery and smaller but more frequent shipments. All these factors combine to increase pressure on the warehouse’s performance, and this is where our WMS, and our ability to use the system, plays a key role,” explains Roberth Karlsson, Site Manager Logistics.
KWBL supplies spare parts and accessories from the French PSA Group to Peugeot and Citroën dealers in Sweden and Denmark. They do this from a warehouse covering 10,000 m2 in Hedehusene near Roskilde, and in Strängnäs, also housing 10,000 m2, 80 km outside Stockholm.
Major change and good ROI
“We’re delighted with our WMS, and we’re very satisfied with the return on investment. But it’s a major change for a warehouse to implement a WMS. It’s a difficult process with plenty of pitfalls,” explains Roberth Karlsson.
KWBL invested in Astro WMS in 2008, carrying out what Roberth Karlsson refers to as a basic implementation of the WMS at the warehouse in Hedehusene.
A basic implementation is characterised by the fact that it is as simple, as standard and with as little customisation as possible, and with focus on causing as little disruption as possible to day-to-day operations.
In 2009 KWBL built a Swedish warehouse in Strängnäs, and the Group chose to use the new warehouse as a pilot to develop and optimise the WMS.
“The new warehouse in Strängnäs was equipped with lots of automated solutions, and we moved over from delivering orders to customers on a weekly basis to delivering every day. Customers’ service level expectations were rising rapidly, so this forced us to make more use of the potential of Astro WMS,” explains Roberth Karlsson.
Customers’ service level expectations were rising rapidly, so this forced us to make even more use of the potential of Astro WMS.
KWBL made a significant change to the location of goods according to the ABC principle, where the most frequently picked A-products are located closest to the dispatch area. Location management was made fluid, with the WMS automatically and continuously keeping an eye on a product’s ABC status and constantly updating product locations.
Intelligent system automates monitoring
“Our WMS helped us to automatically monitor the KPIs we’d defined, so we had real-time insight into our efficiency,” he explains, “We also introduced a TMS (transport management system) which was fully integrated into the WMS and linked directly to our web portal. This integration gave warehouse management, customer service and our customers full transparency in the product’s path from the warehouse to receipt at the customer’s premises.”
This would never have been possible without the extensive use of an intelligent warehouse management system.
This last measure made it much easier to track product errors, as everything is logged in detail. The amount of incorrect deliveries fell dramatically. For the period from 2009 to 2015, errors were reduced by 57 per cent. In the period from 2011 to 2015, efficiency measured in terms of order lines per day rose by 20 per cent despite both volume and complexity rising significantly.
“This would never have been possible without the extensive use of an intelligent warehouse management system,” explains Roberth Karlsson.
He points out that a modern WMS such as Astro WMS is both user-friendly and extremely powerful, with a very high number of advanced functions that many customers do not use. This is for a very good reason, as it demands a lot of warehouse management and the organisation.
Five steps to success
“Success with a WMS requires a number of conditions, and we’ve summed them up in the following five recommendations.”
- Communication: Involve and inform the whole organisation in advance as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible. Don’t hide the fact that the implementation of a WMS in a warehouse that is manually controlled by paper flows is a major, complicated change, and that all processes will be affected.
- Simplicity: Keep the first implementation as simple and close to the standard system as possible. If you keep it simple, there will be the fewest possible problems, and the supplier can act quickly to help solve those problems that arise. This creates the gentlest change and makes it easier for the organisation to become familiar with and enthusiastic about the new system.
- Time and training: Things take time. It’s important to bear in mind that the warehouse has day-to-day operations which must be disrupted as little as possible. So allow plenty of time for the process of implementing and training the organisation in using the system.
- Focus on ongoing optimisation: When the WMS is working as a standard solution it’s time to optimise, so you get the maximum benefit from the system. A modern WMS is advanced with countless opportunities to support all possible solutions and smart processes. It also requires a manager or group with responsibility to focus on the development of systems and processes. The manager or group must not have too much responsibility for day-to-day operations, as this would soon shift focus away from development. This is where you can really maximise your investment in the WMS. But it requires basic implementation and operation to be in place, and the organisation to feel comfortable with the new system.
- New development: Get the most out of development of new versions of the WMS. Astro WMS is used by several major companies throughout Northern Europe and every six months Consafe Logistics launches new functions based on requests and experiences from users. Keep up with these new developments, which offer your warehouse and your company good opportunities to become even more competitive.
Continuous development is critical
Roberth Karlsson expands with an example: an Astro WMS user, a major wholesaler within plumbing and sanitation, worked with Consafe Logistics to develop a new method of organising the routes of picking trucks, so they started picking for six customers in each picking round. This function was integrated into Astro WMS, so it became available to KWBL who seized the opportunity and launched this new way of designing travel routes of forklift trucks in the warehouse. This resulted in a significant reduction in the number of kilometres driven in the warehouse aisles.
KWBL emphasises four main factors when they evaluate a WMS and the provider of the system:
- Well-established supplier with future compatibility.
- Solid customer base that includes major customers with complex requirements for warehouse and logistics management.
- A system and a supplier that offer continuous development, so that the WMS can constantly adapt to new market requirements.
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