During Consafe Logistics Customer Event 2014 we sat down with Peter Lindström, Logistics Manager at Würth, one of the world´s largest retailers of materials to vehicle workshops, craftsmen, construction companies and industrial enterprises. The company chose Consafe Logistics’ Astro WMS® for their warehouse in Örebro. Peter talked about the journey they recently took, when moving to a new warehouse and at the same time implementing a new WMS with automation. The project is quoted to be: “The best planned and executed move within the Würth group– outside of Germany”!

The Würth Group has a turnover of around 10 billion Euros, and is located in 84 countries with 66.000 employees worldwide. Adolf Würth GmbH & Co.KG is a family business founded by Adolf Würth in Germany 1945. His son Professor. Reinhold Würth, currently runs the Würth Group.

Würth Group has 4,500 employees in the Nordic region and the Baltics and have about 300 stores, more than 100 located in Finland. The Swedish company was founded in 1967, and their headquarters is in Örebro, employing 350 people, 32 in the central warehouse.

200,000 articles on demand

Peter Lindström, Logistics Manager at Würth

Peter Lindström
Logistics Manager at Würth

Würth offers a concept called ORSY -”Everything in its Place System” where customers never lack the materials they need for their business or have too much in stock. ORSY is a safe and efficient way to keep order and access control of consumables – screws, bolts, nut, machines, gloves, chemicals and tools.

The Würth group sells more than 200,000 articles online. Approx. 14,000 of these articles are delivered from the warehouse in Örebro.

Our journey began in 2011 when it was decided that we should move to new headquarters and we required a new logistics system. At that point we were working manually, driving around in trucks, picking goods directly from picking lists”, says Peter Lindström.

Three different roads to travel…

When searching for a new warehousing system Würth had three tracks to choose from;

  1. Continue working with manual picking lists and spice things up with a voice picking solution.
  2. Choose a pick/pack/check system, today used by many construction groups, where a conveyor transports the package around and it gets picked up for manual packing.
  3. Choose the “high-tech road” and go for an HDS Shuttle* system and automation

Wurth Shelves

“For a long time we were focusing on continuing on our manual track, because it was safe and simple and we knew what to expect. But we started to investigate further and answering questions such as; the area we could build on, how many square meters of warehouse we needed for each system, risk calculations, staffing requirements and system TCOs”, Peter continues.

It was a comprehensive process to assess which path we would take. Track two disappeared quite early, it received the worst results in most surveys. Track 1 was the best until we met the Professor…

Professor Reinhold Würth said that Würth companies shall always be in the frontline. In order to grow by 15% yearly, there was no possibility to stay in a manual system, it was not a long term solution.

Peter Lindström: “That was the starting point for our selection of the Shuttle system and Astro WMS®. Today, 74 % of our articles are picked using a “goods to man” shuttle system. From an ergonomic perspective is the gods to man solution the best option for our warehouse workers. The goods are stored in the HDS Shuttle*, where a robot arm picks up a tote with goods and transports it to the picking stations. Every station handles 250-300 order lines per hour and around 7,000 order lines per day.”

Moving a warehouse

The objective for Würth was to move all goods to their new warehouse with minimal impact on the daily work. The mission included the goal to complete the move in one week during vacation without losing orders to customers. During the move period we created a move organization that took the full responsibility for the move and daily business. During this period we hade fully control one every article and its whereabouts and availability.

The new warehouse building is about 7 700 sq.m containing a bulky area, chemical area and a shuttle system. The shuttle area contains about 23 736 locations were the totes can be stored. The bulky and chemical area contains about 4 000 pallet locations and 235 shelf locations.

Peter Lindström comments; “Initially people feared the new challenges, change of work methods and lack of knowledge, mostly regarding voice picking, as there would be with any large change. It spooked personnel as we had never worked with the system before. But everything worked well thanks to excellent teamwork both internally and from partners like Consafe Logistics.

Wurth Man pickingWe were the first medium-sized company in the Würth group that installed this type of logistic solution (goods to man). Astro WMS® is a standard warehouse management system but very flexible, it is easy adapt it to meet our demands.

We’re now one year in with our new system in a new building. Since installing the WMS we have a better control of our logistic flow and its key figures. Now we have a better understanding of the system and what it can deliver for us. It’s a new, exciting phase in our living development.” Concludes Peter Lindström.

* The QUICKSTORE HDS shuttle system is a system for cartons, totes and trays, which provides optimum access to stored goods, for a wide range of applications.