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Logistics service provider Craiss connects a new site in the Czech Republic with proLogistik


Albert Craiss GmbH & Co. KG operates a warehouse directly connected to the plant of a technology group at its new site in Czech Mohelnice. The central task of the contract logistics provider is just-in-sequence supply of workstations with components needed for gear manufacture. The warehouse management software pL-Store® from proLogistik keeps processes synchronised at all times, while ensuring high availability.

Contract logistics is a challenging business that depends on professionalism, transparency, and trust. Such constellations are vital in contract logistics close to the industry. Cooperation with divided labour requires manufacturers to integrate their service providers directly into their own value-added and product development chains for an extended period. Ideally, this results in win-win situations for the good of all partners involved.

That is precisely what Albert Craiss GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Mühlacker, Baden-Württemberg, is working on. The family-managed logistics company, with roots going back to 1931, operates 16 sites in six countries with nearly 800 employees. On a total area of approx. 170,000 sqm, the company renders production and industrial logistics services. Warehouse and branch logistics are another supporting pillar. Available know-how in implementation of custom logistics concepts based on integrated developments is accordingly diverse. Those concepts’ operative efficiency needs to be proven time and time again as well. A system solution is not a rigid structure once installed. Rather, it is subject to constant transformation, continually requiring fresh ideas for targeted optimisations. This demands creativity and experience, as well as short communication paths.

Expansion in the region of Eastern Europe

Partnering with producing companies, the Swabian logistics specialist processes value-added services in addition to warehouse, handling, and transport tasks. For clients from the technical sector, those comprise mostly picking and packing activities close to assembly, as well as sequencing based on the cycles specified by production. A returning customer expressed his satisfaction with services rendered over the years: Since May 2019, Craiss has operated another warehouse directly connected to production for the manufacturer in Czech Mohelnice. The plant specialises in the production of gear motors that are, among other things, used in conveyor belts. The contract logistics provider takes care of incoming goods, order-specific picking, delivery of supplies to assembly, and packing in preparation for shipping.

As many as 9,270 bins are distributed between a high-bay warehouse and conventional shelf systems on the logistics property with its 6,000 sqm. Picking and packing stations, staging areas and »train stations« in the form of corridors were set up additionally. The latter are reserved for tugger trains that supply the assembly stations with components based on their requirements for the respective order currently underway. Following the lean idea, the goal was to avoid high stocks in the production environment, as well as unnecessary material movements.

In-depth process comprehension required

This lean-logistics approach is supported by a warehouse management system (WMS) connected to and communicating with the customer’s SAP-ERP via an EDI interface or a converter. After all, digitalisation is vital in this context. As in its sites in Warburg, Schwandorf, and Regensburg before, Craiss relies on the pL-Store® warehouse management software from proLogistik. »Our experience with the intralogistics system house has been good on many occasions in the last few years,« says Daniel Sämann, software development team leader at Craiss. »proLogistik has repeatedly proven that it has the knowledge needed for process design even where varying customer-specific special features must be considered. We can also buy the hardware and software from one source there. In light of that, it was only logical to entrust the Mohelnice project to the company from Dortmund as well.«

A focus on sequencing and mobile packing

Discussion of the specifications commenced July 2018, followed by implementation of the pL-Store® WMS, which was fully commissioned by the end of May 2019. Production-station-specific approval of orders is a special feature of the implemented warehouse management software solution. This means that all required components must be picked sequentially, using forklift trucks, vertical order pickers, and tugger trains. Supply requests are triggered by scanning at the assembly station and recorded in pL-Store® in real time. A means of transport for the order to be received, held ready at a train station designed as a buffer corridor, is activated in parallel. A competent employee is informed about availability and will deliver the requested parts to the correct workstation by tugger train. The employee can collect multiple staged orders and deliver them to their corresponding assembly stations, where they are available immediately for installation without any annoying delays. Status telegrams are submitted to the SAP-ERP to track progress at the same time.

The process of »mobile packing« is characteristic as well, implying that all packing dialogues run through the screens of the mobile data acquisition devices (MDAs). The serial number is scanned for simple and secure identification of the gear motors delivered from production. They can then be packed immediately. This measure is required because the sensitive finished goods must be delivered speedily or stored in the dispatch warehouse in protective packaging.

Operative solutions in keeping with the corporate strategy

Craiss’ new branch in the east of the Czech Republic follows the leading idea of expanding contract logistics beyond the German-speaking region and into Eastern Europe. Mohelnice is the company’s sixth branch there now. The site is operated in two shifts. About 200 orders are currently completed every day, connected to about 2,200 movement orders. Those values are bound to increase gradually as the production capacities in Mohelnice are expanded. The strategy of the Swabian contract logistics provider also includes implementation of group-wide standards that permit proactive system-supported control and monitoring of supply deliveries. »pL-Store® from proLogistik has enabled us to interlock production and logistics without any media interfaces in Mohelnice as well, for uninterrupted transparency of the entire process,« software expert and team leader Daniel Sämann emphasises. »The standardised warehouse management system, expanded with specific functions, supports us in reliably providing expected results and services, and in flexibly adjusting them to new demands. That is particularly important in economically uncertain times. Industrial customers can focus on their core competences while we take care of virtually anything else.« One more rollout of the pL-Store® WMS is planned for the Craiss site in Tübingen in 2021.

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