A few figures illustrate the capacity of the new centre: 40,000 articles are stocked. Up to 10,000 orders with about 50,000 items can be processed per day. A maximum of 500,000 articles in 12,000 packages leave the centre every day. But it is not only these key figures that are impressive. Above all, it is also the dynamics and flexibility with which work is done here. The order throughput time, i.e. from receipt of the order to delivery of the goods, is only a few hours. And that's with order sizes that can range from one piece to several thousand data carriers.
A highly available warehouse management system (WMS) controls the entire logistics process. The WMS controls the complete flow of goods and the optimized warehouse and shipping processing. S&P uses its standardized warehouse management software SuPCIS-L8 (S&P Computer Information System, "L" stands for warehouse logistics). In its basic configuration, this system offers all essential functions for the administration and control of internal logistics tasks. Customer-specific extensions are set by means of configuration and plug-in modules. All modules are based on the same system concept and can be combined with each other. This modular expandability is one of the strengths of SuPCIS.
One system family
The core systems of this module-based software package are the warehouse inventory management with goods receipt, order picking and order processing, the transport control systems for stacker cranes, conveyor systems or AGVs, the material flow control systems including the management of orders and alternative destinations, the forklift control systems for forklift-operated warehouse systems with radio data transmission connection as well as the systems for the paperless handling of logistical processes for goods receipt, order picking, inventory and dispatch, also with radio data transmission connection.
It is therefore a complete system family for all internal logistical needs. It is irrelevant whether SuPCIS is used for small, medium or & as in this case & large projects. The software modules are always the same as a basis.
A very special feature in optimal's distribution centre is the intelligent handling of orders in advance of order processing. The WMS receives the customer orders from the SAP ERP system. SAP and WMS are coupled with a standard interface certified by SAP. All distribution orders received by the WMS first go through a detailed pre-planning process before being processed in the picking process. Essential functions of this pre-planning are the calculation of the most favourable shipping method and route, if this has not already been specified by the ERP system, the integration into a strategic picking planning and the planning of the shipping processing. This planning is based on the volume and weight of an order, the resulting package types and the number of planned packages, and determines the appropriate shipping type and tour based on the delivery address and the planned delivery date.
In strategic picking planning, orders, stocks and capacities are scheduled in such a way that optimal warehouse performance can be expected. Order planning is designed to accommodate the dynamic nature of the system, as new orders can arrive at any time. Some key words to this planning are: "calculation of target picking times per order", "backward scheduling", "capacity planning" and "optimised utilisation".
Another result of this strategic planning is a forecast of the requirements in the individual picking areas. Based on the calculated demand situation, the required replenishment can then be planned in several waves over the course of a single day. In this way, the picking warehouses are essentially filled according to demand. In addition, if desired, minimum and replenishment quantities can be specified as parameters for each article. Suggestions for this can be determined from consumption statistics of the last few days.
Another essential part of order planning is the automatic packaging calculation. Here, again according to optimisation criteria, optimal packages are planned for the intended shipping method. Here it is particularly important that
- as few and as full packages as possible,
- the items are kept together and distributed over as few packages as possible,
- If possible, container units should not be torn open,
- a short throughput time is achieved for the individual package.
Of great importance: the supply depots
Depending on the quantity, the goods received and recorded from external sources and also from the company's own production are either stored on pallets in the pallet warehouse or in containers in the automatic small parts warehouse. The pallet warehouse is designed as a narrow-aisle warehouse, has a height of 12 metres and offers 5,000 storage locations. It is operated by industrial trucks whose operators are guided by mobile terminals from the WMS. The pallet warehouse serves as a replenishment warehouse for the picking areas or as a large-quantity reservoir.
In the miniload, the articles that are in so-called outer cartons are stored in containers with a base area of 400 x 600 mm. This warehouse with three aisles, each with a stacker crane, is also 12 metres high. It has a capacity of 18,000 totes, whereby for reasons of space utilisation, two totes are placed one behind the other in the shelf compartment. The miniload is used for automatic replenishment and picking of entire containers.
Multiple picking zones
The actual processing of the individual orders begins at the so-called order starting stations with the picking of complete packs from the miniload containers, which have been brought to the picking stations in front of the miniload by a conveyor system. Order picking is also carried out from pallets, which usually contain bestsellers. The order picker receives the picking instructions via WMS.
The next work step is picking the A and B articles. For this purpose, the totes are conveyed to flow racks equipped with pick-by-light displays (indicating the source). A special feature is that several orders can be placed on one tray. If "slow-moving" items, i.e. C and D items, also belong to an order, the totes have to be brought to the upper floor via conveyor sections and a vertical conveyor. Here, the desired goods are stored in shelving racks. In the total of four picking areas, picking is done in two stages for reasons of efficiency, with the help of pick-to-light displays.
Once picking is complete, the goods are conveyed to the packing area where they are packed. This is done either automatically or manually. Only goods to which a packaging box could be assigned in advance can be packed automatically. If a standard packing carton cannot be used due to the dimensions of the articles or if special treatments have to be carried out, manual processing is required at one of the 16 packing stations.
Since the WMS had already determined the dispatch service manager and the route to be used for sending the package during order planning, the correct label is now automatically printed and affixed in the packaging area.
Finally, the packages are conveyed to the shipping zone. Here they are buffered by conveyor technology and consolidated according to tour, customer or order. As soon as all packages belonging to an order have arrived in the buffer, they are automatically sorted out and made available. Finally, the numbers of the packages are scanned with mobile data capture devices to generate the shipping documents in this way. The goods are then ready for collection by the dispatch service manager. Should the latter wish to take over the data, it is made available to him via "Edifact".
Evaluations for the future
As already emphasised, it is so important, especially in this distribution centre, to know the expected replenishment needs, i.e. also to make short-term adjustments to the ABC criteria. For this you need statistics. An important component of the S&P WMS is therefore statistical information such as stock, order, picking, shipping and customer statistics. From these values, the system automatically determines and uses all data relevant for subsequent order planning.
Today, modern distribution centres & no matter how complex & are expected to be enormously fast and highly available. The international logistics and fulfilment centre in Röbel/Müritz with its state-of-the-art information technology meets these requirements. With it, optimal media production can fully live up to its role as a leading, independent service provider to the media industry and offer customers a comprehensive service in the field of production and distribution of data carriers.
About optimal media
Founded in 1990, optimal media production GmbH is a full-service provider for the production and distribution of data carriers. The company, a subsidiary of edel music AG, is based in Röbel/Müritz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Initially limited "only" to the production of music cassettes, CDs, long-playing records and later DVDs, optimal has also been operating an international logistics and fulfilment centre since 2001.