DB Schenker Modernizes Warehouse Management
DB Schenker completely modernized its high-bay warehouse in Bad Fallingbostel within a period of nine months. On behalf of an American food corporation, the contract logistics provider DB Schenker is now organizing its entire warehouse management, picking, and co-packing with a fully integrated ERP solution.
To ensure that the supply does not break down, the customer’s goods must find their way from the warehouse to the supermarket within 48 hours of the order being placed. That is a logistical challenge, for which the American corporation has taken an experienced partner on board. Since 2012, DB Schenker has been responsible for the warehousing, pallet management, order picking and co-packing of display articles, and the construction of advertising displays at the Bad Fallingbostel site. An average of 100 trucks with a total of 3,800 pallets leave the loading ramp there every day, around 570 of which have been picked.
For their ERP, the food corporation and the former logistics partner at the time have been relying on the solutions of the GUS Group since 1994. The project was started with the GUS solution CHARISMA when a new DB Schenker warehouse was built in Bad Fallingbostel. Both the market requirements and the technological developments have since undergone major changes. “The warehouse management system of the conveyor technology supplier was outdated, so we had to take action,” explains Thomas Deneke, IT manager at DB Schenker’s Bad Fallingbostel site. That was why the contract logistics provider and its customer started looking for a new warehouse management system. “We looked at several software manufacturers, but finally opted for GUS again,” says Deneke. “For one thing, their offer convinced us technically; for another thing, we have been working for many years with GUS, which is now replacing CHARISMA with the successor product GOS-OS Suite.”
A “Somewhat Different” Migration Journey
For the software launch, the team, consisting of employees from DB Schenker, the food corporation and the GUS Group, chose not to rely on the classic project management including functional specifications according to the V model. Instead, they opted for an agile approach based on Scrum. The agile approach is based on the experience that many ERP projects are too complex to be mapped in a comprehensive plan. For this purpose, the responsible persons divided the project into several parts. “For each topic, we conducted individual workshops together with the users,” remembers Dirk Nettersheim, GUS project manager at the time. “At these workshops, users were able to make suggestions for process adaptations and additional functionalities.”
DB Schenker and its customer jointly evaluated the results of the workshops. Based on their findings, the IT specialists then set about configuring, parameterizing, and, in some cases, programming and testing the new software module by module, always in coordination with the customer and users. “The agile project method has the enormous advantage that the system users are on board right from the start,” says Kor Straat, branch manager at DB Schenker’s Fallingbostel site. “That was why we had no acceptance problems whatsoever.” Very good preparation helped to ensure that the go-live went smoothly in the course of a weekend with no impact on customer deliveries. “We are dealing here with ‘fast moving consumer goods’ that must be delivered around the clock and on time. We cannot afford any delays or longer interruptions here,” emphasizes Straat.
In addition to warehouse management, DB Schenker now also maps its entire order processing, goods receipt from the production plant, picking, and co-packing of displays, in the GUS Group’s ERP system. Project management and users alike are extremely satisfied with the system. “Even without IT skills, our employees can extract all the relevant information from the system to ensure smooth order processing,” says Deneke. “Users also praise the clear and concise design of the individual screen displays.”
Warehouse Data Sent Straight to the Picker via WLAN
Using interfaces, the fully integrated warehouse management system is also connected to the food corporation’s SAP system, to an EDI solution, and to other external applications, recently also to a pick-by-voice solution. Instead of using on-screen picking lists, the warehouse employee now receives voice instructions on which goods to place onto which pallet. “This saves time and prevents transmission errors,” says Deneke. “Because the information is sent via WLAN straight from the warehouse management system to the picker’s headphones and no longer needs to be read.” Nevertheless, it was not easy to convince the employees of the modern system. “Some of our colleagues from the warehouse have been with us for many years and some of them are rather reserved when it comes to new technologies,” says Deneke. “But in the meantime, the initial skepticism has subsided.”
Standstill? No Way!
A total of around 160 employees at DB Schenker now work with the ERP application and the connected systems in the warehouse. The pick-by-voice solution is currently designed for 15 employees. Although the project is now officially completed, “there is always something to do,” explains Deneke. “Since the food industry is extremely fast-moving, there are always market changes that we need to map in the IT system. In such cases, of course, we benefit particularly from the trusting cooperation with our ERP colleagues at GUS.”