De Post - La Poste, the Belgian postal service, has successfully implemented a new Warehouse Management system from RedPrairie . The Warehouse Management system has automated and optimised De Post’s central warehouse and increased the productivity of warehouse staff by 50% since its implementation in June 2007.
There is complete visibility into inventory levels, paperwork has been virtually eliminated, and orders received before noon are dispatched the same day.
The central warehouse of De Post - La Poste stores all supplies for post offices across Belgium. It receives an average of 2,000 orders a day. Stocks include 900 different items of apparel, more than 1,000 types of products sold at postal windows (stamps, parcel packages, etc.), and over 2,000 consumables for internal use in post offices. Items are stored in three different buildings.
‘Each building used to have a separate system to manage inventories,’ says Kurt Persoons, Supply Chain Manager at De Post - La Poste.
‘We had to allocate one person full time per warehouse just to prepare the order picking tasks and define routing. Because there was no coherent system to the location of goods, our working methods were slow and resulted in frequent errors and no clear overview of inventory levels.’
Bringing logic to inventory management
To address these issues, De Post – La Poste opted for RedPrairie’s Warehouse Management system also available in Australia / NZ, India and China. RedPrairie’s good track record and local presence in Belgium proved decisive factors in this choice.
The Warehouse Management system handles all inbound stocks, warehouse management, and picking order processes. With Warehouse Management, incoming goods are automatically allocated to their optimal position in the warehouse, based upon the frequency of their demand. High rotation items are placed so that they can be easily accessed by the picking staff. Even before goods arrive, their placement is known, so no time is wasted looking for an appropriate spot.
“Order picking routes are now systematically optimised, even allowing for multiple orders to be prepared simultaneously. Inventory management has gained in precision, since the exact status of all inventories is continuously updated. The same system is now used in all three warehouse buildings, greatly increasing flexibility: staff can easily be switched from one building to another to cover peaks in demand.”
The Warehouse Management system also provides a clear overview of staff activity at the end of the day. It indicates such things as the number of orders processed and the time it took to process them.
Productivity has increased by 50%
“After only a few months of using WMS, we have already recorded a productivity increase of over 50%”, states Persoons.
“The entire inventory management process has become a logical sequence of steps. The amount of paperwork has been greatly reduced, with most instructions now given electronically on hand-held devices.
“This has virtually eliminated errors. Greater efficiency in paperwork and administration has enabled us to reallocate four full-time equivalents to more productive tasks. Work floor staff is also very pleased with the system, particularly with the user-friendly hand-held device.
“In addition, thanks to the greater accuracy in item orders, the number of stock-outs in post offices has reduced. The software has more than lived up to RedPrairie’s promises.”