Winkler – SAP EWM-supported high performance distribution hub

IGZ implements new central warehouse for commercial vehicle parts specialist Winkler

Commercial vehicle parts wholesaler Winkler has invested around 45 million euros in the construction of a third central warehouse. The new logistics property in Himberg near Vienna, the planning and implementation of which was handled by the SAP EWM general contractor IGZ from Falkenberg in the Upper Palatinate, is geared primarily to supplying the Eastern European markets and will relieve the burden on Winkler's Kassel and Ulm locations. The required system performance is ensured by the optimum interaction of mechanics, SPS and SAP EWM standard software.

In the course of its more than 100-year history, Christian Winkler GmbH & Co. KG has developed into an internationally operating wholesaler for commercial vehicle spare parts. The medium-sized family business, which achieved a turnover of around 405 million euros in 2017, operates 42 locations and employs more than 1,600 people. With its headquarters in Stuttgart, it owns plants in Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovakia. Thanks to this Europe-wide network, Winkler is the ideal contact point for commercial vehicle owners, bus companies, agricultural businesses, workshops and other trade partners.

The required spare parts are currently stored at the logistics centres in Ulm and Kassel. Over an area of around 65,000 square metres, a full range of components with over 200,000 parts is available for trailers, semi-trailers, buses, vans, forklifts and agricultural machinery. A third central warehouse is currently being built in Himberg near Vienna under the management of SAP EWM general contractor IGZ. The productive implementation took place first of all for the manual areas and then for the automated storage areas.

New logistics centre shortens deliveries to Eastern Europe

The site in Himberg covers an area of 100,000 square metres, on which a new 50,000 square metre building with various storage areas and integrated container and pallet conveyor systems was constructed during the first construction phase. The installed storage capacities are divided between a fully automated high-bay warehouse, a small parts warehouse, which is also operated automatically, conventional pallet racks and a hazardous materials warehouse. In the container warehouse, storage is up to four times deeper, resulting in a total capacity of up to 112,560 containers. There is also a pick-up market for spare parts, which are required ad hoc by direct collectors.

"With the additional central warehouse, we want to shorten the delivery routes to our Eastern European locations in order to be able to supply our local customers even faster and more flexibly", explains Rüdiger Hahn, CEO of the Winkler Group. In addition to the Austrian and Swiss markets, customers in the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia and Slovakia as well as customers of the export subsidiary Truck and Trailer Parts worldwide will be supplied from Himberg. "Ultimately, the plant is an expression of our strategic decision to integrate a conveniently located, high-performance central distribution hub for Central and Eastern Europe into the extensive Winkler network", Rüdiger Hahn continues.

Focus on maximum throughput and process stability

From 2019, up to 6,600 order lines per day will be processed via the new high-performance distribution hub. This performance is achieved by the installed automatic system and the warehouse management and control system, which has been fully mapped in SAP standard software, SAP EWM/MFS (SAP Extended Warehouse Management/Material Flow System). This supports the specific process requirements of Winkler throughout and continuously optimises both processes and the use of resources. An external material flow computer is not required with the standard SAP EWM software.

"The implemented logistics concept is consistently geared towards the requirements and objectives of our customers," reports Alfred Meyer, Managing Director of IGZ Automation GmbH, based in Falkenberg in the Upper Palatinate. "The focus was placed on fast and economical goods handling with short order throughput times as well as consistent process reliability with maximum availability of the automatic systems". In addition, "easy-to-use" workstations were set up according to ergonomic criteria and plant efficiency was increased to a maximum by means of tried-and-tested SAP IGZ Best Practices (e.g. control station, touchscreen workstation dialog, connection to transport service providers, ...). Among other things, the IGZ-patented gesture-controlled picking system, "PICK-BY-MOTION®" is being used in the automatic small parts warehouse (ASPW). This highly innovative picking technology reduces the error rate to almost 0%, while at the same time being intuitive to use.

In order to ensure there are no long waiting times in the adjoining counter sales area, a high-speed transfer trolley has also been put into operation in the automatic small parts warehouse. Thanks to SAP EWM/MFS, it takes a maximum of ten minutes to get the spare part to the customer at the counter.  It is irrelevant which spare part it is or in which area it is stored.

Tried and tested project methodology minimises risks during commissioning

The first step involved the SAP EWM logistics planning for the logistics centre, including the automation of processes and completion of the detailed project plans. During this process, IGZ put the entire system, which was to be implemented, through its paces and verified its functionality and performance aspects using simulations and virtual system planning. Assembly work began in November 2017. The first step involved the steel construction for the new high-bay warehouse, which was to be built in the form of a silo. Despite adverse weather conditions, it was completed in mid-February 2018.

This was followed by the steelwork for the ASPW, platforms and the pallet and container conveyor technology.  The SAP EWM/MFS and SPS implementation, which was accompanied by functional and integrative tests, took place at the same time. "To reduce the commissioning and testing time on the real system, IGZ uses self-developed SAP-EWM emulation tools, which have already proven themselves in a multitude of projects. With the help of these tools, it is possible to almost completely test and optimise a new system in a virtual environment. This approach is firmly anchored within the IGZ project methodology," Alfred Meyer continues.

PICK-BY-MOTION® - Gesture-controlled SAP EWM picking

One highlight of the solution is the gesture-controlled picking at the goods-to-person workstations. "With PICK-BY-MOTION®, IGZ has provided a functionally simple, effective and economical picking technology that is also highly flexible," explains Alfred Meyer. "The worker has both hands free; the source and target containers as well as the number of items to be removed are visualised and interaction with SAP EWM is based on gestures. The target selection is monitored by a 3D camera, making mistakes virtually impossible. A further advantage of the IGZ patented picking method, "PICK-BY-MOTION®", is the extremely low training and instruction requirement due to the intuitive operation.

Throughput performance has been increased by automatically consolidating containers in an order consolidation buffer (ACB). Even large quantities of containers can be kept in a minimum amount of space and pre-sequenced for packaging across all deliveries for the goods recipient. This significantly reduces the space requirements and reduces the number of packages, which ensures reduced transport requirements as well as costs. What's more, it also makes picking and shipping more flexible.

Europe-wide spare parts supply geared towards market requirements

"We always strive to meet the expectations of our customers. And to surpass them whenever possible," is the motto of Christian Winkler GmbH & Co. KG. "We benefit from transparency, a high throughput rate and picking quality as well as stable processes, which means fast and secure delivery can be guaranteed," summarises Rüdiger Hahn, CEO of the Winkler Group. Thanks to the modular design of the system, it will be possible to expand it in future if required. This also applies to SAP EWM/MFS, which is scalable in terms of performance.

From 2019 onwards, the timely commissioning of the new location and the implementation of the planned warehouse and logistics concept will make a significant contribution to ensuring that urgently needed spare parts reach customers even faster than before, and that defective vehicles are back into operation as quickly as possible. To reduce downtime and the associated costs for end customers, Winkler offers various transport services (including, for example, night time and fast courier deliveries) throughout the company, with the IGZ best practices for the direct integration of CEP service providers and freight carriers into SAP.

By supplying the Alpine region and Eastern European countries from Austria, the burden is reduced on the existing logistics centres. Longer delivery times due to longer distances can therefore be eliminated. There will soon also be a lot going on at the locations in Northern Hesse and Baden-Württemberg.

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