General contractor, WITRON, continues to expand its performance portfolio
The next evolutionary step: WITRON as a logistics service provider
Parkstein. WITRON consequently faces the challenges of the market with the development of new logistics modules as well as with the design of customized service and operator models. WITRON is known as a worldwide operating general contractor with a broad performance portfolio for the design, implementation, and the service of its highly dynamic picking systems. Now, the Upper Palatinate systems integrator takes on even more responsibility for its customers.
This extension of responsibilities is called “WITRON Warehouse Operation Service”, which, to date, seems to be unique in the “mechanized” logistics world. In the past, WITRON’s scope included design, implementations, and on-site service for automated distribution centers. Now, WITRON will also be responsible as a service provider for the entire warehouse operation using its own personnel - from receiving, over the logistics processes, order picking, route scheduling, dispatch, and through to administrative tasks such as human resources, occupational safety, property protection, and cleaning.
According to the statements from one US customer, the transfer of the entire warehouse operating responsibility to WITRON creates the required time to focus even more on their own core competence. In times of dynamic and permanently changing markets, it is of utmost importance to direct the main focus onto their own core business - the retail business. Thereby, the customer relies on WITRON's logistics and service know-how, which WITRON has build up over decades. This will ensure that the warehouse operation is continuously adapted to the challenges of new market situations.
Especially in North America, it has become quite clear in recent years that the customer is looking for more than just a system supplier”, explains Christian Dietl, CEO WITRON Services. “This is especially the case when the customer breaks into new ground by changing their formerly manual warehouse operations into automated logistics processes - sort of “production”. We know what matters thanks to our extensive and long-standing experience. So far, we “took the customer by the hand”, but now we are able to define and realize the decisive measures on our own.”
WITRON has realized numerous flagship projects especially in food retail worldwide and knows this business sector very well. The first orders for the new operator concept were awarded by customers of this business sector. “Due to the intense contact to our customers, we already were immersed deeply into the business processes of the food retailers and we knew their supply chain from the supplier through to the store or the end customer in detail”, explains Christian Dietl. “The enhanced area of responsibilities allows us to actively shape and optimize essential processes inside and outside the logistics center”.
Thus, WITRON is quite sure to generate an even greater benefit and competitive advantages for its customers if the general contractor operates the entire logistics site. Decisive is the direct interface with the central exchange points of the customer, creating enormous optimization potentials for WITRON.
“If we connect our warehouse management system via open interfaces with the ERP system and other external systems of the customer, we will be able to synchronize the purchase forecast and the inventory optimization exactly with our logistics systems. If we know the current sales figures of the stores and if there is a close interface to the customer’s route scheduling - or WITRON is solely responsible for the route scheduling - then will we be able to plan the daily pick performance of the automated sub-systems on an hourly basis, optimally use the system, and provide the orders just-in-time for dispatch”, explains Christian Dietl. Moreover, it is possible to react pro-actively to peak days, seasonal fluctuations, and the influences of marketing and sales promotions by incorporating historic customer data upfront. “Access to the entire personnel structure of a logistics center provides additional flexibility. This would allow a fast identification of efficiency potentials and best-possible use of synergies between the individual working areas”.
The analysis and use of “Big Data” is already “living practice” in WITRON projects. The digital logistics center will be controlled with and from a leading-edge control center. A master control software developed by WITRON and created based on information from the warehouse management system automatically provides action and operating recommendations for the operator by means of numerous interfaces to internal and external systems. This allows data transparency over all distribution channels, an intelligent purchase and inventory optimization, as well as a global inventory management over all internal and external warehouse locations through to items stored at the supplier's site. A holistic forecast for the processes of all warehouse areas - from receiving, over order picking, and through to dispatch and returns handling - generates a great amount of optimization measures related to the use of order picking systems, required staff, and shift occupation. A workload balancing - a distribution of order peaks to the available picking resources - will also be carried out. In addition, maintenance process benefits from the analysis and interpretation of accurate data and is heading step by step towards “self-learning systems”.
The vertical networking of all processes within the distribution center and the horizontal networking of the processes in the supply chain creates extensive data pools and a holistic transparency. Thus, it is possible to generate exact recommendations for all functional areas and to reliably determine the overall “cost per case” over the entire supply chain. In times of E-Commerce and Multi-Channel, this is a significant competitive advantage.
For WITRON, this expansion of responsibilities is the next logical step that - resulting from the market requirements - provides the customer a maximum of benefit. “Now we can guarantee that our systems work with maximum cost-effectiveness, efficiency, flexibility, and availability”, according to Dietl.