After more than a decade of using a ‘winning concept’, the Scandinavian high street electronics chain chooses to implement the tried and tested Astro WMS in its new Nordic DC Expert is a Nordic chain of home electronics retail outlets with over 1,000 stores in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. Expert offers solutions for sound, imaging, photography, telephony, white goods, and computing. Total sales for the group is around 12 billion SEK annually.
The company’s trademark is personal service, specialist expertise and stores in high-street locations. By selling products that are widely used, Expert is able to give its customers low prices.
Astro WMS since 2000
Expert has used Astro WMS to run its logistics processes since 2000. The company currently uses Astro WMS in its warehouses in Sweden and Norway very effectively as an automatic, paperless system. Incoming orders are transferred from the Expert’s SAP ERP system to Astro WMS. The WMS then organizes picking queues in sequential order according to the route within the warehouse, specific customer and geographical location. In the warehouse, pickers receive the job on-screen and Astro WMS instructs them to drive trucks to each location and pick the amount of goods per order.
Jens Gundersen, Application Manager for the WMS system at Expert AS, explains why they chose Astro WMS. "Back in 1999 we started to look at ways to reduce picking faults and increase efficiency, and needed a WMS system. We benchmarked with different companies to see what WMS they had chosen and identified Astro WMS as one of the alternatives that would fulfill our needs, something we have never regretted".
Efficiency across all processes
With a storage area of 60,000 sq.m. Expert needs to keep forklifts busy and working to full capacity at all times. Astro WMS is excellent at facilitating this. Everything must work together across the supply chain. "We need to transfer deliveries, pick them in an efficient way, and deliver them to customers. Everything has to work together", says Jens. “For us the most important function of Astro WMS is internal logistics processes and administration to help us operate efficiently. We will add more functionality to support additional scenarios, especially when we import Astro WMS into our new DC”.
Implemented into SAP
In 2005 the company implemented the SAP ERP system to control its business processes, except for warehouse distribution and logistics in Norway. The main challenges Expert met with was with the integration interfaces. "Some messages don’t arrive to the target system", Jens points out. "It took us some time to establish a working and stable interface, but this is made as simple as possible from Consafe Logistics who provide a standard XML interface".
SAP WMS module never considered
Expert never considered the alternative SAP WMS module. "Astro WMS was the right system for us", says Jens. "So why change a winning concept? We decided to stick to Astro WMS and re-evaluate the SAP WMS module integration later. After 6 years we still have no plans to change".
Astro WMS to power new DC for the Nordics
Expert will soon open a new Distribution Centre (DC) in south Sweden which will serve all the Nordic countries. When the choice of WMS was discussed, there was never an issue, "Astro WMS is a stable, tried and tested system we already use in two warehouses," explains Jens, "and we’ll be using it again in our new DC."
Upgrading for continual improvement
Expert agrees that keeping up to date is very important. They have a dynamic system, one that has to change often to customer requests and to new challenges as they arise, which is almost daily. "It’s important we have a deployment system to support all new requirements", says Jens. "The fact that Astro WMS is upgraded twice a year means we always have access to state-of-the-art logistics functions. We also sell consumer goods online, so we need to keep track of logistics at a high level to support consumers. Astro WMS supports all the activities we require".
Jens adds that the User Interface also suits Expert’s purposes. "We can customize the UI how we like. We can show and hide features and information, change sequences, etc. That’s a big improvement compared to earlier versions. While we don’t have a lot of experience yet with the new version, we will use it in our new DC. We’ll continue with the old GUI in the current warehouses in Sweden and Norway".
Using a skilled supplier
Jens is confident that Expert AS has again made the right choice of WMS supplier with Astro WMS. "We’ve become much more efficient. All our processes are planned and controlled by the WMS system. Picking is carried out manually by people operating the trucks and the forklifts who are supported by the GUI on the mobile equipment. The WMS supports us and makes it possible to keep errors at a very low level.
We have a long relationship with Consafe Logistics and we find everyone very skilled and knowledgeable in logistics. They make a point of learning our business from the bottom up, helping us improve our routines. We have support agreements in place and we can call if there is ever a problem. The support from Consafe Logistics is of a very high level"
Achievable goals – easy with Astro WMS
"Our vision of streamlining our DC to support all Nordic countries from one base in south Sweden, will soon be a reality" adds Jens. "We’ll move our Swedish logistics operations this year. Next year we will follow up with the Norwegian warehouse, then we’ll move logistics operations from Denmark".
Jens concludes, "Astro WMS easily copes with all our requirements now and for our future, we don’t even look at other suppliers for our logistics".