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With around 600 employees, the trading companies that make up the GILDE Group are leading suppliers of small furniture, home décor and gift items, and home accessories. The owner-managed Group has been supplying wholesalers and end consumers for more than 60 years. What started as a small trading company for arts and crafts items has become a global player with more than 30,000 customers. Along with such growth, the demands on warehouse management logistics processes have also increased. That is why the GILDE Group has pushed ahead with digitalising its two central warehouses in Bocholt, Münsterland, over the last few years. Owing to rapid growth in the product range at the Group companies (GILDE Handwerk, Fink Living and HAKU Möbel), as well as the increasingly complex requirements, the old warehouse management system had reached its limits. The owner-managed Group therefore decided to bring in a new solution and the LFS Warehouse Management System from the Ehrhardt Partner Group (EPG) won the contract. The supply chain software specialist guaranteed rapid implementation, high performance and flexible extensibility. Installing LFS increased GILDE's shipping capacity by 20 percent, significantly reduced the shipping costs and allowed additional parcel shipping lines to be introduced.
Modern vases, decorative pictures and high-quality furniture are some of the more than 25,000 items in the GILDE portfolio, ranging from furnishings to gifts and décor. At its two central warehouses, the Group have 70,000 pallet spaces to guarantee availability. The warehouses also pick and distribute the décor and furnishing items and manage the entire flow of goods along the supply chain. In addition to end-to-end fulfilment, GILDE also handles special branding and product quality control. When the home accessories specialist was faced with the challenge of supplying its customers from multiple warehouses, it needed a more modern warehouse management system. "We used to have different warehouse management systems in each warehouse. They were not modular, so didn't meet the new requirements. We needed an easily extensible and highly reliable system", says GILDE Managing Director, Alexander Yazdtchi.
LFS guarantees a perfect material flow
The new Warehouse Management System had to meet the specific requirements in the sector and had to improve GILDE's processes in general. Introducing the new system, the company focused in particular on standardising processes, partial automation, modernisation based on key performance indicators, increasing efficiency and on modern, lean management. As there are seasonal peaks, in particular for decorative items at Christmas and Easter, and a large number of items in the warehouse are subject generally to a high degree of fluctuation by more than 50 percent, it is crucial for GILDE to guarantee a perfect material flow and adapt to customer orders at all times. "From the very start, we were impressed by the range of different modules and the special programming options. This includes in particular the extensive analysis options that come with the LFS for access frequencies, allocation overviews for the different items, warehouse occupancy and stock lists. On top of that, the Warehouse Management System was also implemented within five months", says Yazdtchi.
With LFS, GILDE now only needs one warehouse for shipping
In the first step, the GILDE Group introduced the LFS at the end of December 2020 at two Group companies (GILDE Handwerk Macrander GmbH & Co. KG and Fink GmbH & Co. KG). The companies ship their goods from the two warehouses in Bocholt. One year later, the LFS was also implemented at HAKU Möbel GmbH & Co. KG, which is also part of the GILDE Group. To save on shipping costs, the next step is to have the Group's shipping process run from a single warehouse again.
"We used to work with paper still for some warehouse management. LFS now gives us more transparency, an improved material flow and the ability to measure warehouse utilisation more precisely", explains Yazdtchi.
Different sizes and handling volumes posed a challenge
For the optimisation process, EPG had to consider a range of different factors. In addition to the various sizes and handling quantities for items, the different customer requirements for shipping logistics also played a major role. "EPG implemented all our specifications very quickly and integrated the LFS seamlessly into our existing infrastructure", says Yazdtchi. And with great success. Since go-live more than a year ago, the Warehouse Management System has fully bedded into the Group and won over employees. GILDE Handwerk increased its shipping capacity by 20 percent by introducing the LFS. The company also significantly lowered its shipping costs and introduced more package shipping lines. From spring this year, one more Group company, GILDE Logistik GmbH, will also be connected to EPG's LFS Warehouse Management System.