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Process optimisation and a high degree of flexibility in the logistics chain
The objective of the IT department was to achieve better data quality, with data being processed faster, and stock levels audited and corrected directly. The logistics processes should also be simplified and improved.
Initial situation: rigid, inflexible solution
In the past, F. X. MEILLER GmbH & Co. KG had employed barcode-based mobile data acquisition in their logistics chain. The total solution used functioned in conjunction with the existing SAP system that had been in place since 1998. However, the tipper truck manufacturer found the application rigid and too inflexible. “You’re dependent on the device manufacturer, you can’t make any alterations to the code and modifications are generally complicated and costly,” says Mr Gnan, SAP-MM Process Coordinator at F. X. MEILLER GmbH & Co. KG. It was impossible to use two numbering systems in the old system. This meant the PC still had to be used to correctly identify and enter the materials. Ultimately, the old system was complex and no longer profitable for the family-run company.
Requirements: a new, hardwareindependent solution
To resolve this problem, F. X. MEILLER GmbH & Co. KG searched for a new, hardware-independent solution. It had to be able to communicate with SAP in real time and have a certain degree of flexibility. It was important for the tipper truck manufacturer to be able to modify the individual applications itself. The company needed to design and program its own processes. Identification using two numbering systems (drawing and material number) was another important requirement. Not all areas of the plant had WLAN coverage, so the solution also needed to be online/offline capable.
The decision in favour of MembrainPAS mobile data acquisition
Mr Gnan became aware of Membrain GmbH at a trade fair. Key to the decision in favour of MembrainPAS was that it is online/offline capable and processes can be designed and programmed by the company itself. The solution also communicates in real time with the SAP system and can be extended to include new processes.
Incorporating the processes and control mechanism via the MembrainPAS mobile application platform
Incorporating the processes and control mechanism via the MembrainPAS mobile application platform. First of all, the mobile application platform was implemented. This controls the various logistics processes while communicating in real time with the SAP system. Then F. X. MEILLER GmbH modified the standard processes in MembrainPAS to meet its specific needs. The F. X. MEILLER employees designed and programmed their own applications. The relevant SAP modules were also developed.
Mobile data acquisition with MembrainPAS
Mobile data acquisition with MembrainPAS was introduced to goods receipts, the central warehouse and dispatch.
1. The goods receipts processes
In goods receipts, the goods receipt for purchase order and the goods receipts for
delivery processes were managed via the mobile device, as was the spare parts management process.
2. The central warehouse processes
The central warehouse uses MembrainPAS for transfer order acknowledgement with residual quantity monitoring. It is a standard SAP transfer order that is used to pick material requirements. The warehouse clerk scans the barcode on the transfer order docket, removes the material from the rack and confirms/books this in the mobile device. The application gives the warehouse clerk the option of checking remaining quantities in the bins and correcting these where necessary. The difference is automatically entered in the permanent inventory. MembrainPAS is also being used for kanban processes. If the kanban status is set to empty, the bins for production are automatically filled up with material. The kanban bin check makes it possible to automatically return dead bins, i.e. those not longer in rotation, back to the empty pool.
3. The dispatch processes
Dispatch uses the package delivery and goods issues mobile applications. Starting point is the transfer order from the central warehouse. First, the delivery number is scanned in. The device then displays all of the items on the delivery. Then, the barcode of the appropriate packaging is scanned. The barcode finds the dispatch employee in a catalogue. The materials are then allocated to the packaging (e.g. a cardboard box). Finally, the weight (total weight of the packaging and the material) of the order is recorded and the mode of dispatch selected. The delivery note is generated automatically according to the booking and the shipment enclosed.
The mobile applications have also been introduced to the plant in the Czech Republic. The legal requirements in Germany and the Czech Republic (e.g. those for inventory management processes) differ slightly and so minor adjustments were undertaken. Further implementations are planned in the near future. A wide range of mobile solutions have been implemented with MembrainPAS that simplify the logistics processes and improve data quality. The realtime communication with the SAP system keeps the data permanently up to date. “We in the central warehouse really benefit from it. Only one process is required to carry out an inventory check, book the goods withdrawal and manage the permanent inventory,” reports Mr Gnan. Since the system is hardware-independent and can be extended at any time, and since the processes can be customised, Mr Gnan already has plans for future applications.
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