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Mechanized orderpicking solutions lowers pressure at Wijlhuizen
In order to better handle the increasing flow of goods at their stores, Wijlhuizen decided to centralize the deliveries to the larger clients and introduced among other actions a mechanized orderpicking solution. Costo delivered conveyor for inbound and outbound transportation throughout a 3-storey shelving warehouse as well as a sorting system in the order assembly zone.
Wijlhuizen has been an important player in the field of truck and trailer parts for more than half a century. The company was founded in 1952 by Albert Wijlhuizen and grew rapidly by opening various branches across the country and by broadening the product range through new import channels and partnerships.
Something for everybody’s taste
The company grew strongly and it shaped its market approach into various different concepts and brands. Each of them focused their own well defined market segments, but at the same time it was vital to keep a good synergy. A holding company was established above the following companies:
- G-Trucks Nederland, which has several franchise concepts in the Netherlands. One of them is TopTruck, which supports 44 affiliated non-brand truck and trailer garage companies. The garage companies are supported with, among other activities, courses and training, 24h breakdown service and commercial activities. Another formula within the holding company is called FleetMaster and it is aimed at the larger fleet owners, who do their own maintenance on their vehicle fleet. They too can count on a wide range of support activities.
- Beneparts; a recently acquired company from Belgium with the same type of customers as Wijlhuizen. The company has the second largest market share in that country.
- Parts Factory mainly focuses on the import of brake systems from China and Italy and reselling them throughout Europe. The company has several very large customers, especially in Germany, and maintains a strong international focus, as it even has customers in New Zealand. Products are produced in China under license.
- - Wijlhuizen with its 7 branches, which can be found all over the Netherlands. This is also the largest operating company under the holding company. A total of 150 people work at Wijlhuizen.
A growing flow of goods
The national distribution of Wijlhuizen has a somewhat outdated set-up and it started to show an increasing number bottlenecks in recent years. Jim Bronkhorst, director at Wijlhuizen, says: "The 7 branches each operate in their own district and received orders every day from the central warehouse in Arnhem, where the head office is located. Each branch has a daily route to its own customers. Due to our growth, the flow of goods at the sites became larger and therefor increasingly difficult to handle. After a thorough analysis, we decided to take the pressure off from our stores by supplying our 150 largest customers directly from the central warehouse. "
This segment of larger customers accounts for approximately 50-60% of all goods flows. Since these customers are now served via night distribution, there is more room in the morning routes of the stores. These now also have the ability to serve new customers faster. In short, the flexibility is now much greater.
Orders received in Arnhem are processed the same day until 6 pm. From 6 pm to 10 pm the orders are assembled by the evening shift, after which the lorries can get on their way. Almost 30 people work in the warehouse, a small part of which is delivering Value Added work, such as repacking and assembling. In addition, 3 more people work in the office at the Logistics department.
Set-up new warehouse
The new warehouse has a surface of approx. 6.600m2 and is roughly divided into three sectors:
1. Large and heavy parts, stored in pallet racking.
2. Large parts with relative low weight, also stored in pallet rackings.
3. Small items and boxes in a four-story shelving warehouse.
There is also a separate room for flammable goods.
The total stock has now over 66,000 SKUs and varies from small parts to complete boxes or pallets. The warehouse racks are up to 12 meters in height and are served by 5 man-up trucks and 2 reach trucks. Forklifts, stackers and electric pallet trucks for loading / unloading at the loading dock are the other vehicles within the fleet of materials handling equipment.
The shelving warehouse was enhanced by Costo with conveyor belts, which connect the ground floor and first floor. Furthermore, roller conveyors and a sorting installation were installed, which transport the bins to the so-called order assembly zone, where 7 exit lanes ensure that individual shipments can be prepared for each branch. Order picking takes place in these first two levels and the installation will reduce the walking times considerably. The slow movers and theft-sensitive products are stored on the second floor. Furthermore, 3 employees are working on Value Added activities, such as repacking, assembling etc.
Orderpicking is still done manually, but the next step is the adoption of barcodes and scanning systems. In fact, most of the goods in the warehouse are already labelled with a barcode. There is enough space in the warehouse to extend the conveyors to the second floor level to increase the orderpicking operation.
The installation is already partly operational; the planning is that everything must be ready by the end of May, in order to start picking the first orders from the shelving area using the conveyors.
Jim Bronkhorst continues: "At Wijlhuizen, we develop our logistic operations very carefully and take one step -by-step at the time. After all, being able to deliver the orders is our absolute priority. When we knew we were giving our central warehouse a larger role, we quickly found our way to Costo. It was clear that they could develop the most suitable solution with a more versatile product range. In addition, they had multiple references within the automotive industry, so confidence was quickly build. The skilled technical department has worked very well with our people so far. "
The goals, a higher throughput rate whilst maintaining minimally the same high level of service towards the customers, seems guaranteed now. Our company has been able to lower the pressure at our branches and is ready for further growth.
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