At Spaten-Löwenbräu GmbH in Dachau, Germany, high season begins in April and ends with the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich – an absolute seasonal peak. The only way this beverage wholesaler can manage this highly seasonal business and prepare seasonal staff for physically demanding beverage handling every year is if it has a well-placed logistics organization running in the background. Faced with an increasing volume of orders, Spaten-Löwenbräu decided to automate the processes within its logistics operation – and to do that, it has turned to LFS Warehouse Management System by EPG. At the same time, picking was switched over to Pick by Voice with Lydia® Voice. From the outset, the goals were clearly defined: more transparency, better stock management and flexible use of seasonal workers.
Spaten-Löwenbräu GmbH is part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev Group, the world’s leading brewery group with an annual sales volume of 433 million hectoliters of beer. With an annual volume of around nine million hectoliters, the company ranks second in the German beer market. 50 percent of Spaten-Löwenbräu’s customer groups are food-service operations, and the other 50 percent are commercial customers, including filling stations, beverage shops and canteens. The supply lines to a total of 1,800 customers have to be intact at all times. For this purpose, the beverage wholesaler keeps a variety of items permanently in stock and has the option of ordering and managing order items on request. The accelerating pace made automating the logistics processes in the 15,000-m² warehouse in Dachau – and providing more stock transparency in the process – an obvious step. The choice was made for LFS because, with its industry-specific software module, the system meets all the specifications of the beverage trade. The fact that EPG with Lydia® Voice also features the Pick by Voice solution, which has also grown necessary, was an additional bonus.
Two picking areas – for greater efficiency
The warehouse consists of two separate picking areas: one for keg picking and one for assembling cash-and-carry items such as cases and six-packs. Both areas are shown separately in LFS, with orders containing items from both product groups split accordingly. Orders are picked in parallel, and then, prior to loading, the items in each order are recombined in a consolidation area for joint delivery. This separation of the heavy and cumbersome kegs from the rather easy-to-pick packaging simplifies the entire process for employees. This way, the double-mast lift trucks used in the keg area can also do their work without posing a danger to the order pickers.
Dependably cushioning seasonal peaks with Lydia® Voice
Spaten-Löwenbräu relies on additional warehouse staff during the peak seasons. This flexibility also has to be reflected in the software systems used – because long and costly orientation is out of the question. Lydia® Voice is speaker-independent, so employees with this PbV solution don’t have to go through voice training and can be productive instantly. The beverage wholesaler currently uses the voice system in German and English. At the request of Spaten-Löwenbräu GmbH, Romanian is currently being implemented as an additional language. The other advantage of Lydia® Voice is obvious: Handling kegs and cases can be physically very strenuous – and dealing with lists or MDE devices makes the entire process even more complicated and slower. With Lydia® Voice, employees benefit from the high ergonomics of the solution. Thanks to the hands-free-eyes-free concept, order pickers can concentrate fully on their work, and this makes them much more productive. Employees at Spaten-Löwenbräu also have the choice of working with the Voxter® mobile voice computer and headset, or using the ergonomic Lydia® VoiceWear®, which is a vest with a built-in peaker and microphone.
And Spaten-Löwenbräu intends to continue to cooperate with EPG in the future: With the good experience, the high reliability of the system and the already noticeable boost in productivity in order picking, further projects are already in planning. The virtual EPG | TIMESQUARE control station, for instance, provides the company with exact information at a glance about the trend in KPIs.