- Introduction of a total solution at all locations
- Consideration of different temperature zones
- Optimum overview of the batches/lots and best before dates
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One central warehouse management system for all nine production plants: This was the request of Bayerische Milchindustrie eG (BMI) when they began searching for a suitable provider of a warehouse management software. The objective was not only to manage the inventory, but also to obtain the transparency required when handling sensitive products. The producer of different dairy products, cheese and dry dairy products found the optimal solution in the warehouse management system LFS provided by Ehrhardt Partner Group (EPG): The software accelerates the production output significantly, reduces the warehouse occupancy and guarantees that the strict criteria for fresh products concerning best before dates are met. Thanks to LFS, the stock level was reduced and the material flow was optimized.
Be it mozzarella, yoghurt or milk powder: The production lines at BMI are always running to reliably supply the regional and national supermarkets and processors with fresh products. The plant mainly processes recurring orders, but it also supplies several customers directly from production, without storing the products in the warehouse. In the Würzburg warehouse, up to 700 vehicles are loaded every month. This results in a loading volume of approximately 100,000 tons per year. “With the implementation of the warehouse management system, we have been able to increase our production volume. This means that we can process more orders with the same number of employees”, explains Hartmut Glücker, Logistics Manager at BMI. “We have also been able to reduce the warehouse occupancy from 120 to 80 per cent.” Before, pallets sometimes had to be stored in alternative locations due to a lack of space.
Hartmut Glücker had already heard about the warehouse management system LFS when he attended the annual Logistics Information Days (LIT) held by Ehrhardt Partner Group in their logistics training center in Boppard-Buchholz. “After this day, I was sure that this warehouse management system would be the right solution for us”, Glücker remembers. “The software maps all our processes. In addition, LFS is future-proof and allows us to make modifications and to flexibly add new modules depending on our business development.” The main request of BMI was the introduction of a global solution for the different production plants – concerning both the software and the hardware. EPG provided LFS and all required handheld and forklift terminals with the graphical user interface iBrowser which guarantees an intuitive and comfortable operation in all warehousing processes.
Almost 200,000 picks per month
With 3 plants for the production of fresh products, 4 plants for dry products and 4 plants for cheese, BMI is one of Germany’s most important dairy companies. Würzburg is the largest production plant for fresh products such as milk, cream, yoghurt, coffee drinks and deserts. This plant receives up to 2,500 orders per day equaling 200,000 picks per month. Conveyors permanently transport fresh products from the production plant to the neighboring warehouse where the pallets are recorded and labelled. With the help of LFS, the warehouse employees take them to the bin locations on an optimized path. “LFS also controls the selection logic. It decides how the goods with best before dates must be stored and retrieved”, Glücker explains. “In the past our employees had to look for the pallets with the earliest BBD and check if our customers would accept the goods. With LFS, this process only requires a few clicks.”
But not every product is stored before being picked up. When a customer requests goods on short notice, the goods are not stored but directly taken to the goods dispatch zone in which the truck is already waiting for the order. In other cases the BMI employees pick the items using handheld scanners. LFS then calculates the shortest transport path by consolidating the items. Afterwards, every pallet is labeled and can be loaded.
Transparency in the entire process chain
Sensitive products require careful handling – BMI places great value on the compliance with hygiene and quality standards. Traceability is just as important as a transparent process chain. LFS records every movement of the fresh products stored at 4 °C to 8 °C, from production to delivery. “With the EPG solution, we have introduced a central system that secures stock availability and documents all movements in the warehouse”, says Hartmut Glücker. “This is especially important in the sales areas, because we need up-to-date stock information to process the orders.”
Ready for the future
After a short introduction time and an intensive EPG course for the warehouse staff during live operations, BMI is now using LFS at six locations. Currently, the company is planning to integrate the four cheese production plants into the warehouse management system. This will include a communication interface between existing hardware resources, e.g. automatic scales, and LFS. In addition, every location of BMI provides of a maintenance warehouse with spare parts for the dairy business. Integrating these warehouses into the EPG solution is also on the agenda.