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Successful Release Change in the Falk & Ross Logistics Centre in Spain


Together with the Dortmund intralogistics system house proLogistik, internationally active Falk & Ross Group has successfully modernised the existing logistics centre in Spanish Celrà. The central challenge in the scope of this complex project was migration to a current version of the warehouse management system pL-Store®, while minimising the effect on day-to-day business

With more than 30,000 B2B customers and a range of roughly 60,000 items, Falk & Ross group is a leading wholesaler of promotional textiles, such as t-shirts, jackets, bags, caps, scarves and gloves, working and sports clothes. They sell 50 renowned brands, including Fruit of the Loom, Russell, Gildan and B&C. In addition to its attractive product and pricing policy, the company, founded in 1981, stands out for its combination of international strength and understanding of the requirements of local markets, which are supported by subsidiaries across Europe.Goods availability and short delivery periods are ensured by state-of-the-art logistics infrastructures in Germany (Sembach), Spain (Celrà), Great Britain (Wednesbury) and Poland (Krakow). These four central distribution hubs process about a million orders per year that are usually delivered within 24 hours.

With view to further improvement of delivery quality

The logistics centre in Celrà, Catalonia, has been active since 2015. From there, Falk & Ross mostly supply B2B customers in Spain, France and Italy. The building complex comprises inbound goods and outbound goods, as well as several halls. Three of them have shelving racks, while two others are high-bay warehouses with about 70,000 bins in total. The high-bay warehouses, called the »Sky-Area«, use picking supported by narrow-aisle trucks. The system is completed with spare halls that keep palleted goods at hand. In order to make order processing more efficient all around and to be able to meet new market requirements as well, the company switched its outdated CTL-based (CTL = Clover Transformation Language) warehouse management solution pL-Store® to a new version of the same software in August 2018. »This migration project that we mastered together is another milestone of our long partnership with Falk & Ross,« reports Jörg Sänger, managing director of the Dortmund intralogistics system house proLogistik. »The warehouse management system proved its worth, but the rising demands in mail-order logistics required an update to a new java-based version of the pL-Store®.«

Software as a core element in a site-comprehensive strategy

The conversion was also part of a group-internal strategy of rolling out the current application across Europe, after it was first introduced in the subsidiary BTC Activewear Limited at the Wednesbury site in 2015. »Using the same software for warehouse management and material flow control everywhere avoids system breaks, creates transparency and permits reliable flow of information,« explains Tobias Brügmann, Head of Logistic Systems at Falk & Ross Group. »Another special benefit of pL-Store® is that the software contains many relevant functions for mail-order logistics even in its default version.« This saves precious time, since only the necessary company-specific WMS modules needed to be added.

Mapping complex processes and mastering them in operation

After the order was placed in early 2018, the developers' team of proLogistik needed less than five months to adjust the default software in close project coordination with Falk&Ross. They had to consider goods receipt organised in multiple levels based on ABC classification, as well as a multi-level transport process. The requirements profile of multiple picking processes in the Sky-Area and the manually operated shelf and spare warehouses alike had to be met. Another aspect focused on the clearance area. »Fast-moving« and returns management were given special consideration. Truck unloading was optimised, and tooling based on demand or preparation of picking carts by the order was introduced. proLogistik designed the WMS for multiple-language use. The system can now be operated by English-, German-, Spanish- and Polish-speaking employees alike. To top it all off, customer orders can be systematically consolidated.

Mobile hardware for data recording in real time

The hardware that was already in use did not need to be modified. Additional units were installed, however. The employees use barcode readers to record all data relevant for order processing on the floor in real time. This makes them more flexible and means that subsequent reconciliation of stocks is not necessary. Devices from the »pro-V-pad Classic« series by proLogistik are used additionally. They are on-board computers designed for rough everyday use in industry and logistics. The terminals can also be used flexibly. They have an impact-resilient plastic housing, a hardened and wear-free capacitive touch surface. Additionally, the pro-V-pad is equipped with a composite safety glass to ensure long, trouble-free operation.

Another milestone in the scope of long-term cooperation

»Our old system had been expanded continually over the years and grown in complexity. Replacing it offers diverse advantages on operative and strategic levels alike,« Tobias Brügmann emphasises. »Order processing could be accelerated, and delivery quality was improved further. Goods are delivered even faster than before now, meeting the increasingly challenging demands of our customers in the B2B sector.« The company is also ready for the future in the areas of development and service. Maintenance and care of the system were made much easier. Another rollout of the pL-Store® WMS by proLogistik is planned for 2019/2020: this time, it will be introduced at the headquarters of Falk & Ross in Sembach, in the Rhineland-Palatinate.

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