The Cigaretten Ostermeier GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Ottobrunn near Munich, is a wholesaler of tobacco and confectionery as well as beverages and spirits. The range also includes telephone and mobile phone cards and batteries. With a fleet of over ninety vehicles, the company supplies around 400 sales outlets daily with more than 29,000 sales units (VME) and stocks 14,500 cigarette vending machines. The wholesaler's product range comprises a total of around 3,500 different articles.
In order to further raise the standards for delivery quality, Ostermeier has recently opted for the topQuality Suite from topsystem. Since the introduction of the hardware and software package specially tailored to the tobacco industry, the error rate in order picking has fallen by 90 percent within a very short time.
Before switching to the topQuality-Suite, Obermeier used a pick-to-light system. But the tobacco industry in particular requires an above-average quality standard. "Our goal has therefore always been to reduce the error rate and optimize the picking process as a whole," says warehouse manager Carlos Goncalves. In discussions with colleagues from the tobacco wholesale trade and a visit to LogiMAT, voice-controlled picking finally emerged as the most promising solution. After this decision the way to the topQuality-Suite of topsystem was not far. From there everything happened very quickly. After only six months, the system was implemented, the warehouse staff trained and the planned functions were ready for operation.
Already after the first working days, it became clear that the eleven warehouse employees were coping excellently with the new type of order picking.
Warehouse staff are supported by the small Voxter Elite Edition mobile voice computer, which is connected to a headset worn comfortably on the head. The light and compact Voxter-Scan back of the hand scanner is used for data acquisition via barcode scan. Equipped with an automatic proximity sensor, it triggers the barcode scan at the appropriate time without the need to press an additional button. Since the back of the hand scanner is linked to the mobile voice computer via Bluetooth, there are no annoying cable connections that can be a hindrance when reaching into the shelves.
The picker receives a voice message via the headset with all information important for the goods withdrawal, such as storage space and number of articles. When the goods are removed from the shelf, the article type is scanned. This practically eliminates the possibility of picking errors when reaching into the wrong compartment. Carlos Goncalves can confirm from his own experience that the speech-guided system is easy to use: "If required, we can also work with temporary staff and pensioners, who also get along excellently with the new system.
But the topQuality Suite can do more than just voice-guided order picking. Pick by Voice is only one of several subsystems, another is the Lydia ControlCenter, an electronic control center that supports the warehouse manager in controlling order processing. With the telephony function, the Lydia ControlCenter offers an additional option for the warehouse manager to contact his employees. This saves time in communication. The topQuality-Suite is linked to the merchandise management system developed by Ostermeier itself via the topsystem ApplicationServer. All parts of the system are coordinated via this central component.
Another strength of the topQuality-Suite is the quality control of outgoing goods deliveries. After picking, the finished orders are weighed at a quality station for inspection and the weight is automatically checked by the system. If the weight is plausible and the order is evaluated as correctly picked, the parcel label and shipping label are printed immediately.
If this is not the case, the articles are checked and the error is corrected before the goods are shipped. This control also contributes to a drastic reduction in errors. "Thanks to the new technology, we have been able to reduce picking errors by 90 percent while maintaining the same workforce," says warehouse manager Carlos Goncalves.
This results in enormous savings on returns. As a result, the downtime of the customer's delivery drivers has been significantly reduced. Since considerably fewer customers check the delivered goods on delivery, the drivers are ready for use again more quickly.
Ostermeier also scores with the new IT system from an ecological point of view. Since the introduction of the topQuality-Suite, Ostermeier has been able to create the industrial cartons used for goods delivery with empty weight in the system. In this way, the numerous cartons from the goods deliveries can be used again in shipping. As a certified Ökoprofit company of the city of Munich, Ostermeier thus significantly reduces the amount of cardboard packaging to be disposed of.
Based on the positive experience with the system, Ostermeier plans to continue to cover processes via the topQuality Suite. For example, it is currently being examined whether the processing of returns will also be supported by scanners in the future.
But not only the result satisfies the wholesaler Ostermeier. topsystem also convinced during the implementation of the system. "The cooperation between topsystem and our IT was very good. Our contacts at topsystem were always available, very competent and solution-oriented," says Carlos Goncalves. His conclusion after the first months with the topQuality-Suite: "Easy to use, well thought-out and light hardware and perfect support from the system partner topsystem".