When the current WMS partner of De Rolf group, a total supplier for childcare and primary schools, indicated that it would no longer further develop its WMS product, the company started looking for a new partner. After a thorough selection procedure, supported by a consultant, the WMS solution from Xtend was chosen. Xtend will also deliver the new Voice systems for orderpicking.
De Rolf group supplies a very wide range of products and services to primary schools, day-care centres, playgroups and after-school care in the Netherlands. In addition to educational resources, the company can also provide AV and IT resources, furniture and even training. All of this results into a fairly complex logistics operation within the existing warehouse in Ochten; the number of SKUs in stock exceeds 13,000 and the total available SKUs is no less than 30,000 references.
When the current WMS supplier indicated in 2017 that it would no longer further develop its existing IT platform, it became necessary to look for a new system. It was agreed with this supplier that there would be at least another 3 years of support available for De Rolf group and that a new Warehouse Management System would be put into use in 2020.
Knowledge of current picking processes
“This great agreement allowed us to take the time to select the ideal software solution for the organization. Even better, this development also gave us the opportunity to find a WMS that could help to improve lead times and increase order picking output, "explains Marcel van Doodewaard, Logistics Manager. The company had already been using Costo storage and picking systems (flow racks and roller conveyors) for many years, but it was not yet certain that sister company Xtend would qualify for the WMS tender.
"We already knew Xtend from the Warehouse Control System(WCS) we already use to control the Costo equipment, but we were not sure how the Arrow WMS from Xtend would hold up in comparison with the offerings from the large, well-known WMS suppliers," adds Van Doodewaard. “In a comparison, both ourselves and consultant Jeroen van den Berg were impressed. Besides inviting Xtend for our selection process, we also used Jeroen van den Berg's online selection tool to come up with a shortlist. Of course, Xtend also had the advantage that they knew our processes through Costo and they have relatively more expertise about physical order picking systems.”
A project visit to a major toy supplier in the UK confirmed the feeling that Xtend can deliver very well in larger, complex logistics operations.
Preparations under way
Four selected providers were asked in September 2018 to make a proposal. Ultimately, two parties survived the first selection rounds and these two offers were close to each other in terms of functionality and price. In January, the contract was awarded to Xtend, which will also integrate 31 Voice terminals in the orderpicking process. The research has already started. Because the peak season of de Rolf group runs from June to August, they wanted to be ready with the entire preparation before that period. Once again, the help of Jeroen van den Berg turned out to be valuable, as a whole blueprint of the future processes and activities in the warehouse had already been made during the preparation. The set-up and testing will start after the summer holidays and, according to the schedule, the WMS will be operational on 1 January 2020.
More efficiency and output
It is remarkable that in the new situation the existing automatic storage machines will disappear. Shelving racks will be put into use instead, however with the switch from single to multi-order picking in certain zones. That seems like a step back, but better results in orderpicking are expected from this set-up. To indicate the difference between peak and low season: the number of order lines in low season are between 1500 and 2500 per day, while in the 4 peak weeks it can be as high as 18.000 per day. Around 70 people work in the warehouse, while 23 people work in the quieter period.
Van Doodewaard concludes: “Partly because of the consultant, all deadlines were met effortlessly. Thanks to the connection with Costo, it feels good to have Xtend also take care of the new Voice systems, so that we need to liaise with as few parties as possible. That fits with our way of working and policies. "