“Innovative, individual, international”. – at BACHMANN, we are a globally active, owner-managed group of companies that has been successfully operating in the electrical engineering industry for over 70 years, developing, producing and marketing a wide range of different products for various applications. These include the "intelligent socket”, our award-winning desk connection panels or digital services and solutions for flexible and future-proof office equipment. To keep pace with the company’s constant growth in the long-term and meet the market demands of the future, BACHMANN has decided to expand its warehouse logistics and roll out the warehouse management software, SuPCIS-L8, at its site in Gumpelstadt. By combining production and distribution in one software, BACHMANN can now respond to customers’ wishes faster and reduce delivery times to a minimum.
With a tailor-made solution to increase effectiveness
The distribution centre offers extensive floor space for a large number of storage bays where BACHMANN can stock its wide assortment of electrical engineering components and systems. From the idea to the go-live, the project partners were able to rely on the expertise of the planning office, UBS (Unternehmensberatung Norbert Schröter) based in Reutlingen, south-west Germany, in the design of the warehouse as well as its processes and logistics strategies. The SuPCIS-L8 warehouse management software controls and manages the intralogistics processes and strategies in the distribution centre as well as acting as MES for the supply to the production line. SuPCIS-L8 controls the entire chain – from incoming goods, order picking to shipment – ensuring an efficient and digitised flow of material. The ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, is also integrated into the new warehouse management system, enabling access to real-time information on order progress and the current stock situation.
“As part of the expansion of the warehouse logistics and the rollout of a new software solution, it was important for us to find the best way of upgrading the options we already had available at the site in Gumpelstadt and achieving maximum potential leveraging. The flexible intralogistics strategies and paperless processes have enabled BACHMANN to respond flexibly to changing requirements,” explains Thorsten Dietz, Head of Supply Chain Management at the BACHMANN company headquarters in Stuttgart.
The goods receipt area at the BACHMANN distribution centre receives a large number of deliveries, including finished goods from the production at various sites, external supplier orders and customer returns, which are all sorted there by our employees. One special feature in the goods receipt process is the delivery of container goods. To efficiently sort the vast numbers of deliveries in goods receipt, our project partner S&P designed an additional process which significantly helps with container separation and sorting. Articles are scanned in and sorted “ready-for-storage”, helping to significantly reduce the workload on the warehouse employees.
Each cable reel at BACHMANN is managed separately by the WMS. The system knows the length and type of each reel. Information on each cable picking order is transmitted to the WMS via an interface to the ERP system. The orders are then displayed to the warehouse employees on MDE devices and can thus be processed swiftly. Once the cable has been cut to length, the actual length of cable removed is entered into the MDE and reported back to the WMS while the remaining cable on the reel is returned to the buffer station. The WMS also supports automatic stock replenishment: if a cable reel on the pallet in production becomes empty, this status is confirmed and another reel is conveyed to the front position. The WMS also sends a replenishment order for this buffer lane in order to guarantee stock availability.
Managing KTG reels is another typical task required in this sector. These reel types are stored rent-free for a pre-agreed period of time which is saved in the system. In this case, the WMS not only manages specific information on each of these reels, but also generates an alarm signal for the control room when the storage period becomes critical so that these particular KTG reels are used first and can be returned to the hire firm on time.
Efficient and transparent networking of distribution and production
In our BACHMANN distribution centre in Gumpelstadt, the integrated multi-order picking principle ensures route-optimised and efficient order picking in production supply and distribution. When organizing picking orders, the reserved SKUs within one order picking group are planned together. While consignment orders are picked order-based on pallets, there are various order picking carts located at the warehouse shelves which are used in various strategies to pick items of multiple orders at once. In this instance too, the warehouse management system optimises processes by deploying an intelligent logic: SuPCIS-L8 calculates the shipment volume prior to picking and the picking cart is equipped with suitable containers or shipping boxes. Items that can be shipped directly are taken directly off the shelf and sent in shipping boxes without having to repackage them first. Another special feature in the BACHMANN warehouse is the way in which extra-long items are picked. They are handled separately from all other order items as these goods always have to be packed separately. To achieve maximum efficiency, these orders can be released for picking and processed separately.
“Due to the complexity of intralogistics processes and workflows in the warehouse, we have to ensure that the master data available for all individual items is entered and maintained very precisely in our system. If an employee reports an error during a process, the data has to be corrected in order to optimise the flow of operations. This presented a challenge which, with the software’s flexibility and the cooperation of the entire project team, we managed to successfully meet,” explains Sabrina Radlach, Logistics Manager at the site in Gumpelstadt.
In view of the all-too-true fact that “long waiting times in production cost time and money”, urgent orders from production take absolute priority at BACHMANN because, if not, there is a serious risk of downtimes in production. For this reason, urgent orders are automatically released for processing by the WMS. By contrast, “normal” orders from production are – as soon as they are required – triggered by the system using parameterisable lead times for each type of movement and processed by the employees in the warehouse. The storage of buffer orders is another aspect which needs to be considered in this context to ensure an uninterrupted supply of production. In this case, the material scheduled for use is managed in a transit storage zone for production and is only called up when needed on the production line.
The SuPCIS-L8 software also manages the C warehouse used for storing bulk goods such as screws. When the inventory in one container is fully consumed, employees can simply scan the container using the MDE device to report the empty container quickly and easily to the system. In keeping with the classic multi-container principle/KANBAN, the WMS then triggers a stock replenishment order to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of material.
Intelligent logistics strategy for a wide spectrum of needs
As a logical consequence, the inter-company process for managing and auditing accounting procedures between the affiliated companies was integrated into the WMS. Likewise, backorder processing was also migrated to the WMS. This integration into the WMS has meant that paper-based, time-consuming, and manual posting activities are now a thing of the past. Using simple and automated processes that adapt to the flow of material, the WMS is capable of efficiently handling this business operation and can distribute the finished products from production processes as planned. A distinction is made here between goods that are produced for stock and the order-based manufacturing of goods for external sale. SuPCIS-L8 is capable of tracking the different types of use and automatically enters the required postings in the ERP in order to comply with requirements regarding ownership.
“Building our distribution centre and deploying the software solution from S&P has given us an all-round and high-performance logistics solution. By unlocking the efficiency, performance, and flexibility of our intralogistics, we are now very well equipped for the future,” explains Ulrich Stumpf, CEO at Bachmann Elektrotechnik GmbH.