Flawless deliveries using DENSO

Eich Handel, a Swiss company employing 20 staff, sells flooring made from laminate, cork, vinyl or parquet. It supplies interior fittings specialists, such as floorers, carpenters and home designers.

It stores its stock at two warehouse facilities. To ensure orders are delivered reliably ad on-time to the customers, it co-operates with PostLogistics – part of Swiss Post -, whose trucks are used for transportation. The individual deliveries usually differ greatly.

Correct information is key

To ensure optimised truck loading, PostLogistics requires all information, particularly details on the delivery dimensions and weights, in advance. The individual transportation units also need to be correctly labelled. Any error directly increases transport costs.

Addressing all requirements with minimal expense is a logistical challenge. Eich Handel assigned the task of devising a suitable software solution to DENSO’s partner, Spirig Systems, and an ERP specialist. Together, they developed a system comprising an interface of mobile data recording and personalised ERP software.

From order to delivery

Through the ERP software’s order processing function, three staff record the orders, which are generally received by telephone. Around 20,000 orders are processed a year. Every day, a list of all the orders due to be delivered over the subsequent working days is compiled. They are prepared individually and electronically, and provided as pack files for the DENSO data-recording devices, the BHT-1100 handheld terminals. A laser printer in the delivery warehouse automatically issues packing slips, and the warehouse staff member uses the BHT-1100 to scan the barcode printed on the slip, enabling the pack file to be loaded onto the handheld terminal. This is done either via radio data transmission (WiFi) or a network connection (LAN). The BHT-1100 shows the warehouse staff member information such as customer name, delivery type and number of items per order.

Order picking made easy
The warehouse staff member uses DENSO’s data-recording device to select a packing item, records any necessary batch numbers, and provides the desired quantity on one or more transport units. The required transport units are consecutively numbered on the BHT-1100 and assigned to the packed product. Once all items have been picked, the warehouse staff member switches over to processing the transport units.

This involves choosing the type – disposable pallet, frame, crate, box or can – and recording the dimensions (length, width and height). In doing to, the staff member can access information from the transport unit master data, as well as pre-recorded data. Once all order items have been processed and all transport units have been defined, the finished packing order is sent to the server and thus to the personalised logistics software. This is upstream from order processing. Data is in turn transmitted either via WiFi or LAN. The logistics software creates an XML file out of the data and other order-processing information recorded by the BHT-1100, and then sends it directly to PostLogistics via Secure FTP. This ensures PostLogistics has all relevant information to precisely plan and efficiently carry out the transportation phase.

The order-processing software then accepts the recorded data from the logistics software, and creates the delivery documentation and labels for the individual transport units. A special label printer is used to print the labels, which show the sender, recipient, dimensions, and a unique barcode, the so-called Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC). This is used to identify logistics units/transport units. The structure of the SSCC guarantees that transport units are labelled with a global ID number.

No more errors
The staff member then sticks the labels onto the transport units. As such, there is no longer any need for things to be written out by hand, and previous causes of errors are eliminated. The delivery is thus ready for transportation, and is sent to the loading ramp. It is usually loaded by the truck driver themselves.

Highly reliable
Eich Handel uses five DENSO devices at two warehouse facilities. The warehouses are connected to the head office via a VPN Internet connection. To ensure availability at all times, data can be transferred via radio data transmission or an Ethernet connection. The benefits of the DENSO terminals include their robust design, compact size and Windows-CE operating system. Power is supplied by high-performance lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, guaranteeing reliable operation for a number of hours.

The data-recording software was designed and created by DENSO’s partner, Spirig Systems. As an importer of DENSO barcode readers, Spirig was thus also able to provide the hardware.

An impressive solution
The high shipping costs were an initial problem, though this was overcome by Eich Handel thanks to a new solution. Today, orders are processed much more efficiently than before at the facility itself. Data only needs to be recorded once at the time of order receipt. It is then in the system, and can be used for various purposes, from picking to order placement with the forwarder, to invoicing. The forwarder, PostLogistics, is also promptly given detailed information, enabling it to optimise all transportation and therefore costs. The number of incorrect deliveries has also declined tremendously since the personalised logistics software and DENSO devices have been in use.

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