Electrical wholesaler Fega & Schmitt has been using Kardex Remstar automatic storage systems in its central warehouse in Heilsbronn for the past year. Items that are ordered no more than once a month are stored 30 meters high, saving space and enabling fast access to an extensive range of products.
“People who compare small items in the electrical wholesale business often go for the lower-priced product,” explains Bernd Eberlein, head of logistics at Fega & Schmitt in Heilsbronn. The logistics specialist has been responsible for planning, picking, shipping, and distribution at one of Germany’s leading electrical wholesalers for more than ten years. Only a few electricians still keep a wide range of small parts in stock, although fast and cost-effective availability of items is vital.
With its wide range of electrical products for the installation sector – consisting of 40,000 items in stock and available within 24 hours – as well as cable and testing equipment for light installation or data and network technology, Fega & Schmitt, based in Ansbach, also sees itself as a partner to the transformation of the energy system. From its central warehouse near Nuremberg, the wholesaler can deliver goods to electricians, solar power specialists, and building sites in its core region, which stretches from central to southern Germany, within 24 hours. One of its special services involves the production of individual wire gauges for all cable types and lengths together with the required insulation.
Order up to 7 p.m. for delivery within 24 hours
A frequently occurring example is the ordering of cable assemblies for the building site at short notice. “Typically, the customers only realize they need the cable as the day progresses and the order often isn’t placed before 4 p.m.,” says Bernd Eberlein, explaining the situation he and his customers are confronted with on a daily basis. “The customer can place an order with us in our core region up to 7 p.m. in one of our 58 stores, online, or by speaking to a sales representative, and the item will be delivered on time the following day. With our two-shift operation, we can ensure that all incoming orders are processed by the end of each working day. Orders placed outside the core region are delivered within 48 hours,” says Bernd Eberlein, explaining the business model. The right logistics strategy is an important success factor for his company here.
Two 30-meter-high Shuttle XP 500 storage lifts from Kardex Remstar have been supporting intralogistics processes in Heilsbronn since September 2014. The purpose-built extension rises high in the air next to the packing station. The idea was to use a space-saving storage concept to expand the product range within the limited space available. Up to 3,000 different items can be stored in each lift. The company is already looking to the future with its extension: There are plans for another six storage lifts.
Slow-moving goods available quickly
More than 16,000 order lines are processed in Heilsbronn every day. The journey around the central warehouse begins when the customer’s order is received. The order is scanned and forwarded via modern conveyor technology to the various storage areas, where the FEGA & Schmitt employees then pick the required goods.
“There were plans to expand our range of small parts in 2014, but we had limited space available. Accordingly, we had to come up with something and the only way was up,” says Bernd Eberlein, explaining the reasons for investing in the 30-meter-high automated storage system from Kardex Remstar. The new technology helps to store slow-moving small electronic parts cost-effectively and make them available for the 24-hour service concept. Slow-moving goods are items that are ordered by customers no more than once a month. The first of the two Shuttle XP 500 storage lifts entered service in September 2014.
Picking trolleys are used to link the Shuttle XP with the other sections of the central warehouse. The storage lifts are also a highly coveted workplace for the employees: “Straightforward, ergonomic, and operated with the latest software,” laughs one employee from the trained ten-man storage lift team. With very little effort, he is in a position to operate the station independently and prepare the batch orders for shipping by employing the batch-picking principle. Five orders make up a batch and they can be processed simultaneously at one packing station. Both shuttles pick around 500 orders a day.
More diversity with lower costs
Power Pick Global warehouse management software is used for order picking in Heilsbronn. The software from Kardex is linked to the ERP system and prioritizes the order sequence. With the software-assisted logistics strategy it is now possible to classify the items precisely from A to Z and place items that move at similar speeds together, because they are automatically sorted and stored according to the number of picks.
“The login on the screen allows the employee’s actions at the station to be traced in the system, providing the kind of access protection that isn’t available with open static shelving. In addition, the small parts are better protected from dust and dirt when stored in the shuttle,” says warehouse manager Marco Drieselmann. It also means that there is no longer any need for employees to walk long distances to pick orders. Since the automatic storage system from Kardex Remstar was commissioned, it has already been possible to add another 3,000 slow-moving items to the product range. There are plans to expand the product portfolio to up to 6,000 items. The addition of six further storage lifts over the coming years will gradually enhance the successful logistics strategy in the area of slow-moving goods.
Automatic storage system for Fega & Schmitt Elektrogroßhandel
Scope of delivery: 2 Shuttle XP 500 units, capacity for a further 6,
Power Pick Global warehouse management software from Kardex Remstar
Commissioned: September 2014, payback period: one and a half years
Performance: 6,000 additional small parts stored in the new extension (30-meter-high rack with storage lifts)
Other: Central warehouse with two-tier distribution concept for 24-hour electrical wholesale service throughout Germany