The automation of sites and production facilities through the increased use of machines and intelligent systems is of high priority at Arvato Supply Chain Solutions. And digital solutions play a key role in this regard. Whether it be with virtual reality glasses , pick-by-voice and pick-by-vision warehouse picking systems, safety solutions for premium products or driverless transport systems in a distribution center’s warehouse automation, the logistical implementation and handling of the supply chain is no longer conceivable without digital automation solutions.
E-Commerce Hub for Online-Retailers
The state-of-the-art logistics center in inter-municipal Industrial Park Dorsten/Marl, which has 60,000 square meters of floor space with three building modules in its first expansion phase, is specifically designed to meet the current and future requirements of online retailing in both B2B and B2C transactions. In particular, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions has also concentrated the e-commerce business for various fashion and lifestyle customers at the location.
The extensive logistics and fulfillment services that are available there include order processing and inventory management, order picking, finishing and special services, delivery and transport management as well as returns processing.
Conveniently located with respect to transportation links, the new e-commerce hub in the northern Ruhr area is ideal for supplying to national and international markets and ensures rapid availability. Structurally, the e-commerce hub is equipped with gates on both sides, which allows the material flow to be controlled from the same inventory both for sending pallets to B2B recipients and for delivering B2C parcels directly to the closely-connected distribution centers of parcel services Deutsche Post DHL and DPD. Goods ordered online can be delivered all over Germany overnight. That is very much to the liking of consumers, who now have very high expectations of delivery speeds, having grown accustomed to shopping on their smartphones and using the improved ways of tracking their online purchases in real time.
The Dorsten site is ready for the predicted market growth in e-commerce — the research institute IFH Cologne expects e-commerce sales of at least 80.4 billion euros in Germany for 2021 with stable growth rates of ten to twelve percent per year. For the final expansion, the e-commerce hub can be extended to cover more than 100,000 square meters. In addition, capacity can be further increased by setting up mezzanine levels, and it can be adjusted to individual customer needs.
Supply Chain Security: Camera-Technology for more Safety
There aren’t any general solutions that are right for every industry and every customer. But Arvato Supply Chain Solutions is convinced that every process step can be improved through innovative solutions to guarantee a secure supply chain overall and a corresponding added value for its customers. The company has the appropriate know-how. At its location in Düren, for instance, Arvato analyzed the packaging process for a leading global photo and imaging company and developed the first solution in Europe to use cameras installed above the packing stations to document whether each shipment is complete and contains the right contents in the right packaging.
Chief among the benefits of camera technology is that it makes it possible to track items in the supply chain and uncover sources of error, such as packages with the wrong content or insufficient quantities.. This cuts down on costs and helps us when dealing with possible customer complaints. In its current state, the camera solution is limited to tracking individual packages. There are plans to include entire pallets, however. In this case, the pallet shipments will be packed in separate zones, with the camera installed above the pallet to document the loading of the carrier.
Ecosystem for targeted innovation management
For the development of innovative solutions and technologies, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions has created an ecosystem that systematically covers the whole process, from the generation of ideas to the implementation of a project. Priority is given here to actively involving customers in this process in the interest of realizing projects together that are tailored to their individual needs. Work is now underway on an innovative solution that can be used during the distribution process to determine the localization status of high-quality goods in close to real time. In the pilot phase currently underway, packages or pallets are equipped with sensors that supply us with relevant geolocation data and information about the condition of the package via a web-based tracking system. Based on parameters like temperature, air humidity or incident light, for example, we can tell whether a package has fallen or is damaged. This real-time supply-chain event management makes it possible for Arvato Supply Chain Solutions to identify anomalies very quickly and initiate countermeasures. In a further step toward increased supply-chain security, a tracker in the package could also immediately detect whether the package is opened before its anticipated delivery date — and, if so, transmit a warning message to the sender.
Automation at the Halle/Landsberg-Site
Arvato Supply Chain Solutions’ multi-stage pilot project to automate its sites has started with its logistics center in Landsberg near Halle. First, a driverless transport system (DTS) is taking over the waste disposal. As it happens, that’s not a small task. Between eight and ten tonnes of film and cardboard waste accumulates there each day, which equates to the volume of about 250 large waste containers.
Previously, employees had to cover around 15.5 kilometers every day to make sure this waste was properly disposed of. This task is now carried out by four self-driving vehicles that transport the containers with the recycling material to the disposal station. The autonomous forklift trucks can move around freely and are navigated by laser technology using a floor plan stored in their system. For this purpose, the site has been set up with cylindrical reflectors on the walls, shelves and pillars along the transport routes. These serve as navigation points that are recognized by a laser scanner on the vehicle. This allows the autopilot system to be controlled with millimeter-level accuracy.
Project Supports Arvato Supply Chain Solutions Strategy
The DTS was not intended to replace employees, however. Instead, it is supposed to create room for activities that add value. This both increases the efficiency of the site and minimizes costs. Following the use of the DTS in waste disposal, the next step this year is to automate the clearance of incoming goods. Then, in phase three, arrangements will be made for the storage and retrieval of goods from high-bay racks with a total of about 20,000 storage spaces. For this, the site will add new DTS that are equipped with a camera system to ensure clear identification of the carriers and the transport orders. In addition, work is already underway on the systematic integration of the autopilot system into the internal SAP system, which is necessary for the implementation of more automation in the future. As it carries out these projects, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions can draw on a high level of IT expertise. After all, the division is already developing innovative digital solutions for the entire supply chain, from procurement to billing. It is with these solutions that the ever-increasing demands of customers in terms of transparency, delivery and quality and the desire for individualized products, services and added value are met.
The Arvato-Site in Halle/Landsberg
Join us on a tour through the Arvato location in Halle / Landsberg and gain an insight into our processes!
Pick by Vision
Data glasses as wearables are part of a technology that is increasingly becoming a trend in logistics: augmented reality (AR). For example, in its 2017 study "Trends and Strategies in Logistics and Supply Chain Management – Digital Transformation Opportunities", the German Logistics Association (BVL) determined that 18.7 percent of companies plan to introduce data glasses within the next five years.
In cooperation with technology partner Picavi, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions has already taken the next step and successfully launched the innovation project "Pick-by-Vision" for Sennheiser at the Gütersloh site.
Prior to this, a separate picking process was identified together with Sennheiser, which made it possible to carry out the processes in a controlled environment and to assess them with precise time measurements. The objective was to use the smart glasses to increase productivity and quality and to identify the optimal process workflows for the new technology. The ability to display additional, context-related information or guidelines makes this AR application particularly suitable for transshipment or maintenance, for example.
The feedback from employees on the operational side of the business was also positive: with the pick-by-vision solution, the pickers have both hands free and their eyes on the current process steps at all times — in contrast to the work with handheld scanners. Instead of relying on the tiring voice commands of pick-by-voice systems, our system inserts data directly into the field of view of the employee in real time.
Business efficiency always depends on the specific application, but according to Picavi, pick-by-vision increases productivity, on average, by a double-digit percentage, compared to traditional picking with paper picklists. Compared to handheld scanners, this means cost savings of around ten to fifteen percent, and even the costs of modern, popular pick-by-voice systems can — depending on process and pick density — be improved by five to ten percent thanks to the data glasses.
The Future of Order Picking
The pick-by-vision project was initiated at Sennheiser in the framework of the current innovation strategy for the supply chain, which sees innovations as a central ingredient for success in products and services.
Meanwhile, Arvato Supply Chain Solutions is already considering extending the system in another area of application: since the glasses allow warehouse workers to have their hands free when stacking the pallets, errors can be minimized when the outgoing goods are scanned, which leads to significant gains in productivity and quality.
In addition, together with Sennheiser, work is underway on additional augmented reality features that are intended to intelligently and digitally support the processes in the warehouse outside of the traditional picking process.