What do you do if the high-pressure washer you need to use has a clogged nozzle? The Kärcher distribution center in southwest Germany ensures the fast replacement of spare parts. The company relies on a fulfillment solution from TGW to support its spare parts fulfillment. The Obersontheim facility ships all the spare parts, accessories and some of the cleaning agents to its customers. This adds up to about 2.8 million order lines a year.
"We looked for a systems integrator, covering as many aspects as possible. TGW offered all these features: They were able to implement the entire solution." Roland Fahrmeier, Vice President Logistics Management Kärcher
REDUCING LEAD TIMES to 30 minutes
SYNCHRONIZING the different picking areas
INCREASING STORAGE CAPACITY by 40%
PICKING ERROR RATE REDUCED (from > 10% to < 0.01%)
Kärcher is considered one of the world's leading providers of cleaning systems. The line of appliances, accessories and consumables is used in residential and commercial applications. From the distribution center in Obersontheim, the company supplies customers on all continents with over 60,000 different spare parts and accessories.
The rapid growth, the continuous expansion in the range of products and the increasing need to supply to end customers directly has made it necessary to devise a new concept for the location in 2009. To cope with the enormous quantity of shipments and the short delivery times required by customers, the order lead times in the distribution center had to be reduced significantly. In addition, the goal was to increase the product storage capacity and reduce the picking error rate to under 0.01 percent.
The automatic mini-load warehouse has approximately 95,000 storage locations for totes. The eight rack aisles of Mustang mini-load are 77 meters long, they ensure efficient storage and retrieval from the 14-meter-high racks. The automated mini-load warehouse supplies the order picking workstations with the products required.
The picking system for Kärcher uses eight PickCenter goods-to-person workstations. Picking at the workstation is done by having two alternating source containers. Parallel to the small parts area, larger goods are picked in a separate area of the distribution center. A shuttle system is used as an intermediate buffer to enable consolidation of the orders. This reduces the number of individual packages that are sent to the customers, thus reducing shipping costs.
In addition to the goods in totes that automatically come from the shuttle system to the packing workstation, the larger goods are provided manually. Most of the work in this area takes place in the afternoon between noon and six in the evening the orders can be ready for shipment before the departure time of the trucks.
Higher order throughput which is achieved through a reduction in the amount of time order picking employees spend walking. The automated systems allow shorter order processing times and allow customer orders to be fulfilled optimally via the different channels (dealers, private customers, service installers and shipment to international warehouses).
Kärcher also benefits from synchronization of the different order picking areas, increased warehouse capacity, reduced transport costs due to consolidating orders into as few packages as possible, and the reduction in picking error rates.
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