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OFS - a flexible solution for a highly dynamic business sector

The retail world is changing - always and within all distribution channels. Enterprises need to keep their supply chain on a high level and adapt it to upcoming requirements simultaneously - while fashion, trends, and customer demands change every day. Consequently, the logistics experts are required to take action.  However, the search for new solutions is quite difficult as the design basics are hard to define in such a dynamic environment. This is a huge challenge on the supplier's and the operator's side - and it can only be resolved with new concepts. 

The wheel does not always need to be reinvented, and groundbreaking innovations can arise from a solid ground of standard modules that have been proven in practice already. WITRON Logistik + Informatik GmbH from Parkstein, Germany, has proven exactly that through the new E-Commerce solution named OFS (Order Fulfillment System). 

High cost-efficiency even with a small-volume picking operation, error-free picking directly into the dispatch carton, efficient order consolidation, shortest throughput times, and a transparent and integrated returns management, the OFS fulfills all these requirements. Moreover, the OFS also supports start-up enterprises in the online trade due to its modular design and its flexibility across all stages of a business cycle.  

In this compact and clearly structured E-Commerce solution, the worldwide successful WITRON OPS system (Order Picking System) acts as logistical core element that is able to efficiently manage small, middle, and very broad article ranges. The articles are stored in totes of different sizes - oftentimes divided into several sub-sections. It is possible to stack several load carriers above one another on an AS/RS location in a space-saving manner. Highly dynamic mechanics elements as well as small, light, and high-speed stacker cranes allow the shortest possible throughput times with the focus on same-day- or next-day-delivery. Multi-functional workstations ensure maximum flexibility and the fulfillment of individual customer demands for both, a 1:1 order picking and a parallel picking of several customer orders directly into the shipping carton.  Integrated packaging lines and a warehouse management system equipped with a large number of E-Commerce functionalities including features for volume calculation and order consolidation optimize the delivery process in a sustainable manner.  

A great challenge for the E-Commerce trade is and will remain the returns handling. This primary task is solved by WITRON's DPS system (Dynamic Picking System).  In terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness, the DPS has been setting standards throughout the logistics world for many years and is the ideal solution for the returns process based on its flexible use.  

All incoming returns are transported via the conveyor system to the quality control stations and to pre-defined repack workstations. Damaged products will be either returned to the supplier or disposed. Undamaged items will be repacked into storage totes and stored into the returns warehouse using stacker cranes. These storage totes are divided into several sections to allow the parallel repacking of different articles into one storage tote, as a return oftentimes consists of only one item. To ensure a maximum safety and transparency for the employee, the repacking process is visualized by a pick-by-light system. The returned goods will then be consolidated with similar stock items just as done in a "classic" DPS picking process, before the consolidated storage tote is returned to the OPS E-Commerce process. Flow channels or buffer areas allow a flexible handling of returned goods that currently cannot be repacked or only partially repacked. Stacker cranes are used for a flexible provision of the totes that need to be consolidated at the workstations. 

Of course, the overall concept also considers large-volume and non-toteable articles. These will be repacked into so-called layer-trays after receiving and thus allow a static and dynamic provision of several different articles in a pallet flow rack - supply is done via stacker cranes.  This not only saves space and driving distances for the forklift driver, it also increases the article variety in the pick front. The use of a so-called pallet rack on a forklift allows the parallel picking of several different customer orders into the dispatch carton. The picker is supported by a pick-by-voice system. WITRON’s IT ensures an order consolidation of all orders that were picked in the OPS area - and therefore a guarantee that customers only receive one dispatch carton. 

WITRON shows with the OFS solution that many benefits can be generated for the customer also for new and future market requirements based on practically proven solutions - true to the motto "innovation through tradition":

  • Overall cost-efficiency regarding investment, number of employees, building size, and the flexibility of the entire concept.
  • Flexibility related to future business changes like growth, number of articles, volume, order structure, customer demands, and many other factors. 
  • Avoidance of picking errors with all its subsequent costs, corrections, and especially unsatisfied customers. 
  • The shipping of only one package per customer based on the efficient synchronization of different system areas. 
  • Integration of a state-of-the-art returns handling focusing on speed, accuracy, efficient storage, and the immediate re-availability of articles for order picking.