02.72017

Logistics support for Gerry Weber

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Logistics support for Gerry Weber

Pierau Planung develops a largely fully-automated storage concept for the fashion group’s new logistics centre

By the end of 2015, GERRY WEBER International AG expanded its new logistics centre with connected outlet store near the company’s headquarters in Halle, Westfalen to 76,000 m² of warehouse and functional space over 5 floors with a capacity for 5.6 million items and a planned investment volume of EUR 90 million. With this important step they were ably supported by Pierau Planung, the Hamburg planning office for logistics and organisation, who dealt with the project management for logistics planning and implementation and proved once again their unrivalled competence in the field of textile, retail and e-commerce logistics.

With nearly 1,000 stores and sales areas worldwide, over 2,800 retail spaces and about 280 franchise stores as well as branded online stores across nine countries, GERRY WEBER is one of the best-known and most successful listed fashion groups in Germany.

As a vertically integrated system supplier, the GERRY WEBER group, in addition to the wholesale business, is strengthened by its retail shops and franchise-run stores. The continuous optimisation of logistics processes occupies a central position and since Spring 2014 has been high on the agenda. The existing decentralised logistics with sites in Dortmund, Ibbenbüren and Osnabrück, together with an outlet in Brockhagen was consolidated in to a new building in Halle. By merging into a central logistics centre with shared handling of hanging and flat goods, the company anticipated simpler and improved control over customer deliveries as well as faster and more efficient processing and logistics structures optimised both economically and environmentally.

Fully-automated storage concept for 37 million items per year

Pierau Unternehmensberatung GmbH, a planning agency for the logistics and supply chain, which operates successfully throughout Europe, has assisted GERRY WEBER. With clients including Hennes & Mauritz, Klingel, Walbusch and Intersport, Pierau Planung brings many years’ experience of working with the fashion industry and has many large online retailers in its customer portfolio. The experts from Hamburg provided continuous advice and support for the logistics planning project management.

The logisticians at Gerry Weber have worked together with Pierau Planung to create a largely fully-automated storage concept which allows for approximately 28 million consignments per year to be moved from incoming goods to being on sale as quickly as possible. The result is that on a 14.5 hectare site they have built a logistics centre with 30.000 m² floor space and a total of 76.000 m² of warehouse and functional space over five levels, providing plenty of scope for future expansion. The complex is 10m (outlet) by 30m (high-bay warehouse) high with a storage capacity designed for 5.6 million items. “In its concept development, Pierau Planung endeavours not only to pursue a purely technical approach but also to develop the ideal combination of IT, technology, organisation and personnel,“ says Lothar Hättich, Managing Director of the planning office. “We provide our customers with the optimal solution in terms of initial investment and long-term profitability and we always consider their specific requirements and objectives.“

Multi-channel, multi-line processing for B2B and B2C

The new logistics concept was created on the basis of forecasts given by Gerry Weber as to volume and structural developments up to 2019 / 2020. The underlying goal of the joint concept development was to create a future-proof logistics facility that optimally supports multi-channel distribution and multi-line processing. “Centralising B2C, B2B, pre-orders and reorders together with the handling of flat goods (FG) and hanging garments (HG) on one site saves time and money,“ says Hättich. A key idea of the new concept is a common delivery of FG and HG in the same carton. This has several advantages as in addition to cost saving, delivery speed is increased leading to a greater choice of leading freight service providers. Putting them both together means that the current collection can be delivered in one go, facilitating control at both the logistics centre and on the road. As no storage space is usually available at the POS, the full collection can be put on the shelves immediately so that flat goods can be stored without delaying the arrival of hanging garments. The multi-channel approach implemented at Gerry Weber handles both the B2C and B2B deliveries with the same processes and equipment. “The site has been planned economically regardless of the distribution channel. The concept of a multi-channel system is flexible, adapting easily to structural changes, and the installed systems are uniformly utilised“ says Lothar Hättich.

Economically picked and sequenced

Gerry Weber hanging goods are fully-automatically picked. Manual intervention by an employee is only required when receiving goods into the system and when packing them for despatch. Picking of flat goods happens as a single stage process directly into the shipping box, following the goods-to-man principle. From a logistics point of view there is a distinction between A-articles on the one hand and B-/ C-articles on the other. While the B-/ C-articles are channelled directly from the shuttle warehouse to the picking station, the A-articles, due to the significantly higher flow rate, are first fully-automatically incorporated into the flow rack. The flow rack then allows for rapid, repeated access to frequently requested A-articles. Lothar Hättich declared the interim storage of A-articles in the flow rack as a simple matter of economics, “If the picking station had been served directly from the shuttle warehouse with comparable speed and reliability, there would have been a substantial increase in investment costs with the same result and at much greater demand on the performance of the shuttle warehouse.“ With a joint delivery of flat goods and hanging garments, the flat goods are picked from the flow rack for the shuttle picking station in batches, put into bags at a transfer point and then processed via fully-automated, high performance hanging garment conveyor technology. “The analysis of various processing alternatives showed that by reducing the use of conveyor technology, the dimensions of the facility could be optimised by reducing the number of package sizes. The complexity of control processes in the warehouse management system could, thereby, be kept relatively low,“ reports Hättich. The items can be sequenced together through the combined processing of hanging and flat goods. The hanging goods sorter brings the products specified by the customer orders and ensures efficient provision at the POS. A fully automated three-tiered sorting stage with eight lines per stage allows up to 8³ (i.e. 512) to be sequenced in a single sort run. Another performance mainstay of the logistics centre in the future is the processing of returns. The handling of up to 30,000 returns packages on a daily basis requires a sophisticated approach. The system responds flexibly to quantities and mixed compositions of incoming goods and establishes whether the articles form either mixed or unmixed units when processing the returns. Flat goods and hanging garments are separated and returned to their respective storage areas.

RFID potential is fully exploited

Gerry Weber has played a pioneering role in the use of RFID in the textile industry. The new logistics centre will allow the company to succeed further by exploiting the potential of all aspects of this technology. The logistics technology gathers information concerning the incoming and outgoing goods at all stages of processing and this is then sewn into the products as RFID tags. “Every item of merchandise is individually identifiable right up to the time of sale, enabling a whole new dimension of accuracy and control over stock, undeliverables and returns,“ clarified Lothar Hättich. It was not for nothing that Gerhard Weber, Founder and Member of the Supervisory Board of GERRY WEBER International AG, called the new logistics centre at its ground breaking ceremony, “an outstanding concept that will set new standards in global fashion logistics.“ At the topping out ceremony in February 2015, Ralf Weber, CEO of GERRY WEBER International AG, gave a big thanks to Gerhard Weber for his great vision with regard to the project and said, “This impressive logistics centre is a symbol of the growth of Gerry Weber today and we are now more than ever geared towards the future.“

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