WCS for Special Brew

19th December 2022

Logistics BusinessWCS for Special Brew

Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System (WCS) optimises inventory flows and improves warehouse efficiency. The 150-year-old Finnish beverage and brewing company Olvi relies on Cimcorp’s WCS to handle all intralogistics within its distribution centre.

Throughout Olvi’s logistics centre in Lisalmi, Finland, goods are mainly produced at the brewery and then automatically transferred to the high-bay warehouse for storage, picking, and dispatching.
It can be busy. “During the high season, a product produced in the morning might be in the retail outlet in the afternoon,” says Olvi’s Logistics Foreman, Ilkka Heikkilä.

However, a typical week with 5500 customer deliveries is not quite as hectic. Standard delivery time from production to the customer’s premises is 48 hours. This is fixed in the everyday routine of the logistics department. “The 24-hour cycle means that we must pick and deliver one day’s goods within 24 hours,” says Ilkka Heikkilä. “The next period is dedicated to new orders.”

High quality with warehouse control software

In 2014, Olvi implemented Cimcorp’s intralogistics system. It encompasses all the different areas for storage and order-picking and manages the flow of inventory from the reception to the dispatch of goods. Integrating seamlessly with the sales system M3, the WCS receives all the pertinent data from its host system.

As a first step, product information, orders and their deadlines are transferred from M3 to WCS. The needed data for product registration is automatically retrieved from the conveyor system.
In the logistics centre, operators move pallets to the order picking areas according to a predetermined schedule. A voice-directed picking system can be used, if required. With this system, pickers receive instructions regarding order lines as well as their locations in the dispatch areas.

Automatic picking

“Via their headsets, warehouse workers receive exact information on what and where to pick,” explains Heikkilä. A combination of automated tray picking and manual picking is used to pick most orders, with any products that cannot be picked automatically being added to the pallets.

With the high-bay warehouse, conveyors and order picking robots, Olvi can pick 97 percent of its orders automatically. In the next step, the goods are shrink-wrapped and moved to the shipping area. Whenever a delivery is ready, it is loaded and delivered to the next link in the chain. At that point, WCS sends the order accomplishment information to the sales system for reporting and invoicing.

Real-time monitoring

Olvi implemented Cimcorp’s WCS to eliminate bottlenecks and improve efficiency. Within the logistics department, the system has about 20 users. For them, monitoring in real time is one of the biggest benefits. “The most valuable feature is the ability to monitor the current picking situation,” says Heikkilä. “We can track our progress in relation to the daily target.”

With Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System, better forecasting and evaluation are also possible. For example, Olvi plans and forecasts picking activities based on order data.
A high degree of automation and innovation is a hallmark of Olvi’s distribution centre in contrast to many of its European competitors. Olvi knows that as a beverage company expands and offers more complex products, it is essential that the goods flow seamlessly.

“We have more than 400 products in our distribution,” Timo Miettinen, Logistics Manager at Olvi, “and Cimcorp’s intralogistics system has the capability to handle products from our subsidiaries and partners in addition to our own.” The number of products has grown rapidly over the past decade, and there is no indication that this trend will reverse. “In fact,” says Miettinen, “there are still new and attractive product categories with room for growth.” For Olvi, smooth processes and intelligent automation are necessary to meet customer demands.