The company also wanted to be able to link its manufacturing facilities into the WMS, so that it could monitor the production of products, such as bread, which is delivered to its stores each day.
The company decided to implement the WMS solution from SSI Schaefer’s subsidiary, Salomon Automation. “We chose Salomon because of their experience in the market,” says Huwyler, who oversaw the installation of the WMS system. “They’re known for having good retail solutions. It took us five years to implement the system, which we integrated into our logistics processes.”
All 21 of the distribution centers now run the SSI WMS, which is linked to Coop’s central SAP system via IDOC-interface. IDOCs enable the connection of different application systems using a message-based interface. Orders are entered into the SAP system and then forwarded to the SSI WMS. From there, the WMS solution controls the product and information movement throughout the warehouse and to the store.
“The entire flow of goods is computer-controlled through the SSI WMS and SAP,” says Martin Nyfeler, software manager, Salomon Automation. “The relevant dynamic data such as inbound, stock and shipping (orders) is updated just in time between SAP and the WMS”.
The Schaefer WMS systems were initially installed in the four national distribution centers including deep-freeze high-bay warehouses in Hinwil and Givisiez. These facilities are fully automated, equipped with two pallet cranes as well as pick-to-light systems. There are 3,250 pallet storage locations and 270 pallet pick locations. There are also 9,350 totes with 500 pick locations. The pick-to-light systems make it easier for employees to work in sub-zero temperatures. Frozen products are distributed throughout Switzerland from these two locations.
All of Coops’ distribution centers use a variety of picking applications—like paper, radio frequency on hand-held devices and lift trucks, voice and pick-to-light.
Whatever the application is, the SSI WMS directs the pickers, assigns shipping codes, prints shipping labels for transport, and prints store orders and receipts for confirming goods sent. Some DCs ship goods by pallet; others use roll carts that are sequenced by store aisle.
Since installing the SSI Schaefer WMS system, Coop has achieved a 10 to 15 percent increase in productivity and significantly reduced logistics costs. Customer service levels have improved and out-of-stocks have been reduced.
“We really work smarter thanks to the SSI WMS solution,” says Huwyler. “Our integrated system has allowed us to optimize costs along the supply chain—and is enabling us to be better than our competitors. Freshness sets us apart—and we could never achieve our goals with this technology.”