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Coler trusts in the connected warehouse and transport management provided by EPG.

The Coler GmbH, an expert for vehicle parts and garage equipment, was looking for a new warehouse management system for their 32 sites in Germany. They were looking for a solution with a high scalability, combined with a quality increase for the customer deliveries. They decided in favor of the warehouse management system LFS produced by Ehrhardt Partner Group (EPG). The reason: in comparison with other warehouse administration tools, LFS not only administers the inventory, but actively manages and coordinates the warehouse processes. The starting signal sounded in 2010 in the Bielefeld warehouse. EPG integrated the warehouse management system based on the elaborated logistics strategy and the training concept “Train the Trainer”. The objective of this concept was to train the Coler employees during the first go-live phase and enable them to autonomously introduce the system on other sites. The Bielefeld warehouse was followed by Kirkel, Mülheim-Kärlich, Holdorf and Oldenburg. In 2014, the central warehouse in Münster will be connected to the system. In order to maximize the process security up to the customer, Coler recently decided to connect the EPG product line TMS for transportation management solutions and to use the new modules for tour planning and online tour processing. The pilot project started in the Mühlheim-Kärlich warehouse. The decisive advantages: The transport management system TMS can be connected to the existing warehouse management solution without additional interfaces and with the known LFS user interface. Only the combination of warehouse and transportation management solutions allows an optimization of all processes. This way, Coler benefits from maximum transparency in the entire supply chain.

Challenge

  • Delivery to all German sites and customers
  • Quality increase thanks to the system’s high scalability
  • Global process optimization from the warehouse to the customer

Solution

  • Introduction of the warehouse management system LFS
  • Problem-free extension of LFS with the module for tour management
  • Flexible and efficient planning of tours with the module for online tour processing

Results

  • Intelligent coordination of all processes
  • Permanent process security in the warehouse and on the road
  • Exchange of information with all vehicles and customers in real-time
  • Maximum transparency of the freight load thanks to data exchange with the handheld computers

Coler runs LFS.

“As a partner of the automotive industry and a supplier of the most different spare parts, we guarantee our customers on-time and high-quality delivery. In order to guarantee the highest possible process and inventory security, we had to organize our logistic processes accordingly”, explains Thomas Torke, logistics manager of the Coler GmbH. “Experience shows that it is useful to consider logistics as a closed process and not to manage the logistic processes using an ERP system. That is why we decided in favor of the warehouse management system as a global solution for the warehouse and the road. With LFS, we can remain competitive in the future and we can benefit from a significantly better quality of the customer deliveries.” Before the integration, we had to elaborate a logistics strategy and a roll-out plan together. In this process, the exact requirements to the new warehouse management system were analyzed and the objectives were defined. In 2010, EPG started with the implementation of the system in the Bielefeld warehouse, the first of seven sites for which an implementation was planned. This warehouse was quickly followed by the sites in Kirkel, Mülheim-Kärlich, Holdorf, Oldenburg and Trier. Recently, the vehicle parts expert has decided to introduce the product line TMS with the two new modules for online tour processing and tour planning. The starting signal sounded in Mühlheim-Kärlich at the end of 2013.

 

Intelligent connection of warehouse and transport management

“Compared to a simple warehouse administration tool, the warehouse management system offers many additional features”, Thomas Torke reports. “While other systems only serve simple inventory administration, LFS manages all goods movements and employees and intelligently coordinates the processes.” However, an overall optimization consists of more than just managing the warehouse processes. The logistics on the road plays a decisive role in the process chain. “Together with EPG, we planned to optimize the entire logistics chain up to the customer”, Torke says. “This is only possible when warehouse management is closely linked to transport management. With LFS and the two functional areas LFS and TMS, we have found a solution that is capable of doing that.” The advantage of the new product line TMS is that the solution can be used as an integrated part of LFS without additional interfaces. This means that all processes can be displayed in the known and uniform user interface of the warehouse management system. The objective was to efficiently increase the quality of the customer delivery with the new software products and to make all processes traceable and transparent. In the Coler group, 35,000 different parts have to be managed every day. “For us, receiving a targeted and individual solution from EPG was essential”, Torke explains. “TMS and its different modules allow us to select the function that will support Coler’s everyday business in the most efficient way”, Torke says. The module for online tour processing allows a flexible and transparent tour planning process and optimizes the exchange of information between the headquarters, the vehicles and the customers. The data transfer takes place in real-time and with the help of handheld computers. The tour planning module also offers options for an efficient and flexible route planning process. Restrictions, for instance in road transport, are automatically observed. The tour planning process consists of several stages with interrelated functions. The options for manual tour processing include three sub-functions for frame tours, map representation and route optimization, which can be combined with the dynamic planning of tours. These functions can be used depending on the customer’s requirements, the industry and the order volume.

 

Coler works with calculated frame tours: The tours are always processed by the same driver and at the same time. This also means that the driver always takes the same route. The strategic planning process allows Coler to work with cut-off times that are required for observing the customer’s delivery restrictions. Due to the integrated Tracking and Tracing function, Coler can obtain maximum information about the orders – from reclamations to electronic proofs of delivery.

 

Accelerated internal and external processes

The connection of the warehouse management solutions LFS and the transportation management solutions TMS allows an acceleration of the internal processes at Coler as well as an improvement and increase in efficiency for the customer delivery. Already during order consolidation, a command can be entered in order to inform the transport management system about the location of the items to be shipped. In addition, a driver can flexibly take up other orders when collecting the items in the warehouse. When the driver recognizes that goods that have not yet been assigned to the current tour have to be delivered on the same route, the items can be scanned in order to assign them to the current tour. At the same time, the warehouse management receives a request for changing the order status. “In addition, we use the system in a way that all orders of a customer are collected and recorded with a cut-off time in order to pick the ordered items in a way-optimized form. This means that we deliver several orders for the same customer.” Shorter processing times guarantee a higher customer satisfaction. As a vehicle parts expert, several items always have to be in stock. Here, LFS guarantees a high inventory security, which is also important for stocktaking. The system’s high flexibility also shows during tour processing: As the processes in the warehouse are connected to the processes on the road, the drivers can optimize them easily and autonomously. With their handheld computers, they can always check the current status of their orders.

 

Besides LFS, the scope of delivery also includes picking trolleys for multi-order picking, RF terminals for picking as well as mobile printers. The devices, which the pickers carry on a belt, allow printing labels during picking. EPG also provides Coler with handheld computers the drivers use in their trucks for tour processing. In the module for planning tours online, the status of single orders can always be traced. In 2014, the large central warehouse in Münster will be connected to LFS. In order to optimally manage the 120,000 bin locations and 110,000 items, the EPG Pick-by-Voice technology will be used. The roll-out on all other sites of the Coler Company can take place per Copy and Paste, because the processes are highly standardized and can be transferred from one site to another. Thanks to the “Train the Trainer” concept, the effort for training the employees can be reduced to a minimum.

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