enjoy work. As one of the leading manufacturers of workwear (including footwear) and personal protective equipment, engelbert strauss supplies customers around the world. Due to strong growth over the last few years, the brand manufacturer decided to invest in a highly automated omni-channel DC in Schlüchtern, Germany. The goal was to centralize all fulfillment processes in one location, to digitalize and integrate them.
CONNECTED CI FACTORY Connecting production and fulfillment in one location and comprehensive digitalization and integration of the processes
OMNI-CHANNEL DISTRIBUTION Adaptive processing of fluctuating and unpredictable order structures (split-case orders and large-volume supply orders for corporations and stores)
HIGHER CUSTOMER SERVICE LEVEL Individual packing patterns and promise of 24-hour delivery
INCREASED WAREHOUSE CAPACITY The continuous growth and expansion of products and product range called for a highly automated warehouse solution with one million storage locations
INTEGRATED RETURNS HANDLING Faster processing of the returned goods through integration into the overall solution for re-picking
engelbert strauss with its headquarters in Biebergemünd, Germany, was founded in 1946. The company has about 1,400 employees. The workwear expert specializes in the production of clothing and accessories for work, shoes and personal protective equipment – or, as the family-owned company puts it, 'superhero uniforms'. The customer base consists of corporate customers from the skilled trades, industry and service as well as do-it-yourself customers. The products are sold via catalogue, online shop and company-owned retail stores.
In 2012, the continuous growth of engelbert strauss by double-digit percentage points led to the very first occurrence of logistical bottlenecks in Biebergemünd. Therefore, an additional location was rented in Frankfurt.
This measure was successful in providing short-term relief, but in the long run, the existing distribution network was not going to live up to the challenge. The potential for expansion at the Biebergemünd location had been exhausted. At the same time, the technological standard in Frankfurt no longer met the requirements of the workwear specialist. Therefore, engelbert strauss decided to invest in a high-automation omni-channel distribution center that would be capable of serving all distribution channels from one location.
At goods receipt, engelbert strauss receives cartons that are delivered from the international production sites, as well as returned goods. The distribution to the return workstations is driven by work load and fully automated. After inspection and repackaging, the goods are picked into an empty mix container that is directly forwarded to the fully automated shuttle system.
The goods from goods receipt are stored either in an automatic mini-load warehouse or directly in the shuttle warehouse with a total of one million storage locations. The automatic mini-load warehouse has two functions. It is both the supply storage for the shuttle system and the buffer storage for ready-to-ship cartons, which are directly forwarded to goods issue in the cross-docking process. Both the automatic mini-load warehouse and the shuttle system can store goods triple-deep, thus ensuring maximum storage density.
Thanks to the direct connection to the corporate shoe factory (production of customized footwear) and textile finishing, up to 400,000 pairs of shoes and six million textile finishing items can be produced in the corporate design of the customer in addition to the standard product range.
For order fulfillment, engelbert strauss relies on FlashPick®. Regardless of the order structure, the brand manufacturer processes both small and large orders using the Goods-to-Person (GTP) order fulfillment system: The goods are sorted out of the shuttle system fully automatically and distributed over 28 picking workstations (PickCenter One) At the high-performance workstations, up to 1,000 SKUs per hour are picked directly into target cartons that have already been set up fully automatically. Supply and disposal of destination and source cartons is handled automatically and in sequence. This allows for the processing of up to 21 customer orders at one time per picking workstation. Consequently, a despatch capacity of up to 4,000 orders per hour is possible during peak times.
After the picking process, the orders are directly passed on to goods issue.
Finally, the cartons with the orders are automatically closed, strapped and labelled (shipping label). Then the cartons are made available at the gates.
The CI Factory combines production supply and omni-channel fulfillment under one roof. Thanks to the high degree of integration of the two areas, engelbert strauss can produce and deliver personalized, unique products just in time, in addition to the standard product range. Particular emphasis was put on the omni-channel capability of the plant. The order structures fluctuate from small to large orders and are difficult for the workwear specialist to predict. FlashPick® enables the brand manufacturer to serve all distribution channels at the same time. The manufacturer does not have to worry about complicated batch processes and is able to keep its 24-hour delivery promise to the customer at all times.
One of the crucial success factors in the implementation of the project was the use of a digital twin. Using a complete, virtual representation of the entire solution, it was possible to test and optimize all strategies, processes and physical components in advance. Important key figures, such as the supply situation of the workstations, were thus verified before the plant went live. This is what made it possible to get the colossal 'CI Factory' project up and running ahead of schedule.