First Wise Media, Germany

First Wise Media GmbH has propped an extraordinary growth in recent years. To cope with the ever increasing demand, the full-service provider of high quality IT accessories had to permanently hire new storage spare – until the decision was made to build a new logistics centre on the premises in Weertzen. The IT distributor decided to install the new Dematic Multishuttle 2 as pilot user for the efficient and accurately sequenced small parts picking. Approximately six months after commissioning two planned expansion stages are already realised.

Order Structure

After an intensive specification phase, Dematic GmbH in Offenbach was chosen as the general contractor for the entire logistics system.

Delivery and scope of the new logistics centre, which was built in close proximity to office buildings and an existing warehouse on the premises, includes the following subsections:

  • Goods receiving / stock turnover for pallets
  • Goods receipt for the Multishuttle with 5 workstations
  • Dematic Multishuttle 2 system
  • Case conveyors
  • Manual high-bay warehouse for pallets and picking warehouse
  • 12 ergonomic pick stations
  • Despatch and outgoing goods
  • Control centre and Dematic DC Director Warehouse Management and Material Flow Control Software

Targets

  • Consolidation of eight leased logistics centres in a new building at Weertzen
  • Automatic handling of different electronics products down to the            smallest lot sizes
  • More efficient picking of a steadily growing article spectrum
  • Reduced error rate


“We had very specific ideas about how the processes should be organised in our warehouse and how IT should  support. Dematic has done a really outstanding work during the creation of the specification.”

Tim Jöllenbeck, Executive Director
First Wise Media GmbH

The Challenge

First Wise Media has around 5,000 different products from over 30 brands are permanently available – from small SD memory cards up to large speaker systems for PCs. The strong growth forced the medium sized enterprise repeatedly to rent additional storage space. Until October 2012 the stock was spread out in eight logistics centres – three of them with picking. The ongoing trend to smaller batch-sizes at more frequent order cycles should be accommodated by the use of automation technology incorporating the latest shuttle technology  and an increased picking efficiency.

Initial Situation

The market for telecommunications and consumer electronics grows seemingly incessantly through ever new and improved electronic devices and gadgets. Computers, smart phones and game consoles have become a cross-generational standard in German households. This technology trend and the resulting expansion of appropriate business space in retail are only one driver for the rapid growth of First Wise Media GmbH.

The privately held company markets and distributes high-quality computer accessories and acts as a hub between manufacturers and retailers. The suppliers include – amongst others - Belkin, Samsung, Samsonite, Dell, Edding and Creative. On the retail side First Wise Media supplies nearly every major electronics markets, including Media Markt, Saturn, MediMax and Euronics, but also online mail order companies such as Amazon and Otto, as well as supermarkets such as Real, Rewe and Famila. The company operates as a full-service provider that even offers the putting away of the goods in the market (so-called rack-jobbing) and takes care of re-orders, returns and complaints.

The Solution

After extensive research and tendering phase, First Wise Media chose the Multishuttle system and the DC Director Warehouse Management and Material Flow Control Software from Dematic.

To ensure an efficient and quick delivery, the system should operate reliably and identify shortages already in the processes, in order to fix them right away. The aim was to reduce the error rate to less than one per thousand by using  automatic weight checks.

To fully exploit the high performance of the new Multishuttle system the Dematic software performs a continuous order processing. This principle applies to all processes starting with the order handling, reservation, followed by the transport process, right through to picking and shipping delivery. This basic principle (which is a standard in all Dematic implementations in the IS field for) guarantees a high level of consistently high utilisation of all components of the overall system and thus a time-and cost-effective use of the new system.

“The sequencing of the items in the precise order in which they must be put on the shelves later by our staff in the market is a great advantage for us. With the manual picking with the person-to-goods principle this was not possible in the past.”

Tim Jöllenbeck, Executive Director
First Wise Media GmbH



Technical Data

  • 5,000 products from over 30 vendors in different sizes are permanently in stock
  • Goods Receipt for the Multishuttle with 5 work stations
  • Three-aisle Multishuttle 2 warehouse with 60 shuttles, 82 m length, 37,200 storage locations
  • Manually operated pallet and picking warehouse with 6,600 storage spaces
  • Picking zone with 12 ergonomic workstations
  • 20,000 pick positions per day

Implementation

After receipt of incoming goods, the DC Director Warehouse Management System decides in which area the goods are to be stored. Larger quantities and articles that are intended for manual picking are repackaged on euro-pallets an then transported via reach truck to the scales and further to the pallet storage. In this case, the truck driver is supported via data radio terminal by the DC Director software, which forwards the collected data directly to the system and it allocates input and stock removals. Due to the weight control in goods receiving subsequent errors are consistently avoided. However, a very high quality and accuracy of master data is extremely important for the accuracy of the weight control.

Next to the pallet scale a work place with a dimension measuring device is located. Here new products can be measured, weighed and photographed for the master data determination, as well as noticeable items are controlled to correct the master data if required. In today’s fast-paced computer and mobile phone industry the life cycle of a product is often quite short and therefore approximately 80 to 100 SKUs are removed from First Wise Media’s stock while around 120 new items are added.

Products which are determined by the warehouse management system for storage in the Multishuttle are initially repacked into containers 600 x 400 x 420 mm at the five incoming goods work stations and thereby exempt from all shipping cartons.

After scanning the pallet by the picker, a display shows how many items must be repacked in total from the pallet into containers. Now the picker takes an empty container from the lower conveyor line and scans it. After picking the displayed amount of items, the container is weighed to check the amount for plausibility. Subsequently, the picker moves the container onto the conveyor system and continues with the next empty container.

The automatic conveyor system transports the filled container to the upper floor, where it is stored in the thee aisle Multishuttle system. After a few months the 8 picking stations were extended to 12 and another 26 Shuttles were added to the 34 existing ones in the Multishuttle system. Thus the final completion stage with one shuttle per level is attained.

The Process

For their customers First Wise Media gathers each order of a market and then generates several orders from the available positions - a so-called pick-job, which is then transmitted to the DC Director software. The software then checks whether the order contains full pallets or cases, which can be picked directly from the pallet warehouse, or whether a split-case picking should be triggered from the pallet warehouse or Multishuttle. If there is sufficient stock in the targeted areas available, the system reserves the quantities required in the appropriate containers and assigns the order to a free picker or work station, where it executed completely. This assignment is made according to configurable priorities and parameters and follows the basic principle of continuous order planning and release.

Each of the 12 picking stations has a buffer for up to 12 containers, which are delivered by the Multishuttle in a precisely defined sequence. Sequencing of the products carried out in sales-oriented order.

When starting a customer order, the system suggest one of three different sized shipping boxes to the picker, to which a barcode label is attached for identification through the employees. Now the system screen shows the amount and photo of the article which is to be put into the shipping carton. Each step is verified by an automatic weighing operation. If the required quantity and total weight match the order, the picker can confirm the processed order line by taping on the screen and pushing the container back onto the conveyor system.

If the weight control recognises a deviation, the picker must check immediately if he has picked correctly or if there is some other reason. If the shipping carton is full, the picker can always create a delivery note for the subset, print a shipping label and continue picking the order with a new shipping carton.

If a customer order is completed, the system triggers the printing of shipping documents and asks the picker to place these together with any required filling material in the box and close it. The final shipping cartons are pushed onto the same conveyor which guides them to shipping area on the ground floor.

Still on the conveyor the carton is strapped and photographed to prove the integrity and correct labelling of the carton.

The shipping staff takes the cartons off the conveyor, scans them one last time and stacks them on pallets according to the order or by parcel service. After a final weight control, each pallet is wrapped before handing the over to the various parcel services or forwarding agents.

The Result

Currently, around 20,000 pick positions are picked per day in the new logistics centre. A position can include any amount - a single items as well as an entire palette. A visualisation of the entire system in control centre allows the staff to monitor the reliability of all components at any time. The permanent weight validation has reduced the error rate to less than one per thousand and increased customer satisfaction as a result.

Meanwhile and after moving the last article, First Wise Media started working in two shifts to fulfil all orders from the new logistics centre. The Multishuttle warehouse with its 60 shuttles is already in full operation. The goal to make the workforce more efficiently, is achieved.

“The ratio between travel time to picking time has improved tremendously through the use of Multishuttles. Now we can handle further growth with our professionals. “

Tim Jöllenbeck, Executive Director
First Wise Media GmbH

Customer Benefits

  • More efficient labour utilisation by goods-to-person picking
  • Shorter walking way and picking times
  • Less picking errors due to weight control directly at the pick stations
  • Error rate below one per thousand, and subsequently increased customer Satisfaction
  • Sequencing of the products when picking takes place in sales-oriented order
  • Visualisation of the entire system in control centre allows monitoring of reliability of all components
  • Space for further growth

About the Customer

In 1974 Bernd Jöllenbeck founds  a trading company for electronic accessories that invests heavily since the late nineties in building their own brands. The most famous brand is “Speedlink”, under which the company offers accessories for PCs, laptops and gaming consoles.

2001, the distribution company First Wise Media GmbH is founded. The distribution of high-quality branded products is part of the performance spectrum as well as the comprehensive service for retailers and suppliers including rack jobbing and vendor-managed inventory concepts.

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