Engelbert Strauss is a leading manufacturer of workwear, safety footwear and personal protective equipment, with more than 1,400 employees worldwide. It supplies corporate customers in the skilled trades, industrial and service fields, as well as do-it-yourselfers. Products are sold via an online shop, catalogs and retail stores.
In 2012, double-digit percentage growth led to the company’s first experience with fulfillment bottlenecks in its main distribution center. Although Engelbart Strauss decided to lease an additional facility in the short-term to address the increase in volume, it was recognized that in the long run, the existing distribution network would not be up to the challenge.
Additionally, the potential for expansion at existing locations had been exhausted. At the same time, current technologies in use no longer met the company’s inventory handling and order fulfillment requirements. Therefore, Engelbert Strauss decided to invest in a highly automated, omnichannel DC capable of serving all distribution channels from one location. The company engaged TGW to design, engineer, and implement the new system.
At point of receipt, Engelbert Strauss receives cartons from its international production sites, as well as returned items. Returns handling is fully automated, with items parsed out to specific return workstations based on workload. After inspection and repackaging, the goods are placed in an empty mixed container, which is then stored in a 16-aisle shuttle system with more than 495,000 storage locations.
New items move from receiving to storage in either an automatic mini-load warehouse or in the shuttle warehouse, which house a total of 1 million storage locations. The automatic mini-load warehouse has two functions. It is both the supply storage for the shuttle system, and buffer storage for ready-to-ship cartons, which are directly forwarded to the shipping area via a cross-docking process. Both the automatic mini-load warehouse and shuttle system can store goods triple-deep, ensuring maximum storage density.
Thanks to a direct connection between the corporate shoe factory (which produces customized shoes) and textile finishing, up to 400,000 pairs of shoes and 6 million apparel items can be manufactured to the unique design specifications of corporate customers, in addition to Engelbert Strauss’ standard product range.
For order fulfillment, Engelbert Strauss relies on TGW’s smart piece-picking system, FlashPick. It allows the company to fulfill both small and large orders, regardless of the order channel, from just one DC. As a result, the complicated and time-consuming batch processes that were previously required become obsolete.
FlashPick is based on a single order management approach, which helped Engelbert Strauss improve its throughput by five times, and up to 10 times higher on peak days). The fully automated shuttle system supplies 28 PickCenter One picking workstations with SKUs automatically. At the high-performance workstations, up to 1,000 SKUs per hour are picked directly into target cartons that have already been erected in another fully automated process. Both supply and disposal of destination and source cartons are handled automatically and in sequence. This allows processing of up to 21 customer orders at one time per picking workstation. Consequently, a throughput rate of up to 4,000 orders per hour can be attained during peak times. By implementing FlashPick, Engelbert Strauss was able to significantly increase its lead times, while keeping its 24-hour delivery promise to their customers continuously.
After the picking process, orders are directly passed on to packing and shipping. Here, order cartons are automatically closed, strapped and labeled with the destination shipping label. Then the outbound cartons are routed to the docks for transport and shipping.
“TGW was one of the main reasons for the success or our CI Factory project, and also one of the key players in the whole project,” says Matthias Fischer, head of operational projects with Engelbert Strauss. “Not only because TGW supplied the overall solutions, but especially because of the teams working together on the consequent digitization inside the project and the logistics center.”
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.