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Weitblick Gottfried Schmidt OHG, a company specialising in high-quality work clothing, implemented zero-fault commissioning as part of a major logistics investment in Alzenau. The automated small-parts warehouse went into operation in September 2017 and meets the high expectations placed on it with the help of a gapless RFID system. Each item of clothing has a hangtag with a transponder chip. This chip is read at the various stations of the automatic conveyor system. Despite its perfect stock management, this warehouse is subject to legally mandated annual inventory.
“The question for us in 2017 was how to take inventory in an automated warehouse,”
recalls IT Director Michael Dyroff. Ten years previously, he had already replaced full stocktaking at Weitblick with a sampling procedure. At that time, the approximately 40,000 stock positions of this family-owned company were distributed among four different locations.
Dyroff became aware of inventory sampling while attending a trade fair.
“I was completely surprised that in Germany counting random samples would be enough for legally mandated inventory-taking,”
he said. But it is, indeed. Since the 1970s, Article 241 (1) of the German Commercial Code (HGB) has accepted inventory sampling as a valid method. It means that no physical count is needed, if the type, amount and value of inventory can be determined
using samples and statistical methods. To make use of this, Weitblick invested in the certified inventory sampling system Stasam by Hamburg software and consulting firm Stat Control. The result has been dramatic savings. Stasam is an extrapolation process that is ideal for conventional warehouses, and admits deviations within certain limits. As a rule, it counts between five and ten percent of stock positions.
Instead of 40,000 stock positions, with inventory sampling Weitblick staff only had to count 400 positions. Ten two-person counting teams could do it in just five hours.
“Back when we took full inventory, the entire staff was busy counting for three days, during which time the warehouse was closed,”
reported Dyroff, for whom the investment in Stasam amortised in the first year. He is also very satisfied with the assistance he gets from Stat Control: “All we have to do is register our inventory to Stat Control. They give us very good support throughout the entire process, so each time we finish with a successful outcome.” Weitblick simplified its stocktaking even further for the new automated small-parts warehouse in Alzenau. The four-aisle facility offers capacity for 60,000 positions and replaces three earlier outside warehouses. The only items still kept at the Kleinostheim headquarters are raw and subcontracted materials like zippers and buttons, which are still moved manually.
“With RFID, the automated warehouse gives very high stock certainty, so sequential testing was an option for us,”
explained Dyroff. For this purpose, Stat Control has developed a software called Staseq which lets inventory be taken with as few as 30 samples in ideal cases. Due to the value-based stock distribution across the two remaining warehouses, Weitblick was able to implement sequential testing in the raw materials and accessories stock as well. The viability of this was confirmed by pretesting.
Summary: By switching from Stasam to Staseq, the textile company was able to further drastically simplify its annual inventory, now counting only 30 positions instead of 400 as before. This takes three two-person teams less than an hour, with the assistance of the warehouse manager and project leader. The most time is still spent in preparation. For the inventory sampling system to calculate the count lists, it needs the latest stock data from all areas of the warehouse. Dyroff exports this from the merchandise management system to Staseq as a csv file. The count tallies are likewise entered in Staseq, which uses them to determine whether the inventory it has calculated is accurate or not.
“So far, we have passed each inventory, and I’m confident this will remain so,”
said Dyroff. In view of the zero-fault commissioning at the Alzenau location, this optimism is more than justified.
“All we have to do is register our inventory to Stat Control. They give us very good support throughout the entire process, so each time we finish with a successful outcome.”