Achieving high inventory quality doesn’t happen by accident, and this is especially true for manually operated warehouses. This is why EDEKA Nord carries out around 500 zero-crossing checks per day at its conventionally operated ware-houses in Zarrentin, Neumünster and Malchow. For each zerocrossing*, order pickers are required to count the corresponding storage item and document it in the forklift terminal. In this way, the quantities recorded in the warehouse management system are checked at least once a year, resulting in extremely high stock reliability.
The automated storage areas at EDEKA Nord’s Zarrentin location are especially efficient. Around 330,000 of the location’s 390,000 storage items are picked fully automatically or semi-automatically. Furthermore, the facility boasts, in addition to its high-bay warehouse, order picking machinery (OPM) and a dynamic picking system (DPS) manufactured by Witron. While the OPM stacks the products ordered by EDEKA retailers on pallets or roller containers, depending on the respective store’s requirements (a process that does entirely without personnel), the DPS – with its pick-by-light system – facilitates the highly dynamic, automated, practically error-free picking of small items.
With these facilities, EDEKA Nord offered optimum conditions for implementing a simplified inventory procedure based on random sampling. Such simplified procedures are, according to the German Commercial Code (HGB), permitted if the company in question has reliable inventory management system in place and compre-hensively maps out all its stock movements. The company must therefore ensure that its inventory is well managed and that the simplification of its procedures does not result in statements that are less accurate that those of full inventory counts.
EDEKA Nord was easily able to fulfil these conditions. Back in 2009, it therefore ceased to conduct full inventory counts – procedures that had previously required up to 250 employees, each working eight hours per day. After searching intensively for a suitable inventory sampling system provider, EDEKA Nord opted to work with Hamburg-based Stat Control, basing its decision on the owner-run software com-pany‘s professionalism and exclusive focus on statistical procedures for inventories and inventory checks.
The proven inventory sampling systems Stasam and Staseq were determined to be most suited to EDEKA Nord’s needs. Stasam offers an extrapolation process that is especially suitable for conventional warehouses and that allows for deviations with-in certain limits. As a rule, it counts between five and ten per cent of stock positions. Staseq is a so-called sequential testing method. This method is used in automated storage areas to, ideally, achieve the respective inventory target based on only 30 random samples.
Before the software was purchased, it was tested twice at the Zarrentin location. Both tests were successful and EDEKA Nord was able to carry out its first inventory sampling procedure on 21 November 2009. Its investment in the software had al-ready paid off on completion of its first inventory using the new system, which has since meant that the inventory procedure takes only four hours and requires only 25 employees.
The savings achieved in the automated warehouse areas are especially impressive. Thanks to sequential testing, only 72 of the 328,000 storage items held there need to be counted (about 0.02 per cent). The random sample counts will allow up to eight differences, as per the legally permitted tolerance.
Since 2009, six of the seven regional wholesalers in the EDEKA network have introduced inventory sampling, and all have opted to use solutions developed by Stat Control. The Stasam and Staseq sampling systems are easy to use and only require minimal training. Their use is therefore not dependent on the support of an external provider. Indeed, all inventory sampling procedures conducted so far by EDEKA Nord have required almost no help from the software‘s supplier. As a means of protecting against unexpected problems, each inventory is registered with Stat Control. This enables EDEKA Nord to immediately contact a consultant in the event of an emergency. In this respect, too, EDEKA Nord leaves nothing to chance.