For more than seven decades, K+K Klaas + Kock has been convincing customers with high-quality food and products from the region. But the topic of digitization is also driving the retail company. The latest milestone in the consistently pursued IT strategy is the implementation of a warehouse management system. With its help, intralogistics processes will be aligned more efficiently and made even more flexible, so as to be ideally equipped to respond to current and future challenges in a demanding market segment.
K+K Klaas + Kock B.V. & Co. started in 1950 with the confectionery business. With a keen sense of the potential expansion rates associated with the onset of the discounter wave, the merchants established their first open-plan store in Nordhorn just six years later.
Regional strength as a concept for success
A good 7,000 employees at K+K ensure that customers can rely on the promise of quality and freshness. The range of regular products is constantly supplemented by trend and seasonal products. In addition, the company’s own large-scale butchery produces meat and sausage specialties under the “drilander” brand. In addition, K+K has made a name for itself as one of the largest suppliers of returnable beverages in North Rhine-Westphalia. Currently, the selection includes around 18,000 different items, which are delivered to the points of sale via the fleet of around 120 vehicles.
Regional strength is one, albeit elementary, building block of the success concept. At the same time, K+K is exploiting the potential of digitization to cope with its ongoing expansion and to position the company more flexibly and efficiently. As early as 2011, GWS Gesellschaft für Warenwirtschafts-Systeme, Münster, installed gevis ERP, an ERP solution that helped realize numerous objectives: optimized master data management, electronic invoice verification and management, and the handling of ordering processes via EDI and the Internet. In addition, there is a web store through which supermarkets located within a radius of 150 km can order goods on offer directly.
Consistent continuation of the digitization strategy
In 2016, the go-ahead was given for further development of the IT infrastructures. “To meet the sensitivity of our consumers, we have always emphasized the highest food quality combined with sustainability and transparency,” Rob says. Verbunt, the project manager responsible for the LVS digitization project at K+K. “In order to be able to guarantee this permanently and at the same time act in an economically secure manner, the logistical processes had to be designed and reorganized in a functionally secure manner. Therefore, K+K decided to introduce a warehouse management system”.
The race was won by pL-Store Foodline from proLogistik, a software solution for warehouse management. Their proverbial specialty is that all central applications for food retailing are already stored there as standard. Highlights include online inventory management, parallel picking options, BBD processing with monitoring of remaining shelf life, space management including optimization procedures, and customer-specific labeling of goods.
“The decision in favor of proLogistik was also supported by the fact that the intralogistics system house was able to supply the necessary hardware in parallel from a single source and we did not have to look for another supplier here,” Mr. Verbunt further notes. In addition, the warehouse management system from proLogistik already has a standardized interface to the gevis ERP | NAV from GWS Gesellschaft für Warenwirtschafts-Systeme, so that any connection problems could be ruled out from the outset.
Phase model minimizes commissioning risks
Initial specification discussions took place in July 2016. Already in March of the following year, the pL-Store Foodline-LVS was put into operation for the first time. The phase model agreed between K + K and proLogistik provided for a total of ten start-ups:
The major advantage of this approach is that the underlying complexity of the project can be reduced and risks minimized. Affected employees also benefit from “training on the job” and can gradually familiarize themselves with the new work processes.
Industry LSV supplemented with individual applications
Beyond the standard functions in pL-Store Foodline, proLogistik has, among other things, implemented an additional function for multiple transports. This is important for K+K because individual vehicles in the in-house forklift fleet physically and systemically pick up several pallets at the same time and set them down at transfer points. There, the load carriers are picked up by other ground conveyors and distributed individually to assigned storage locations. Also to be considered were various exchange article processes to be automated. Put simply, as soon as item A expires and transitions to item B, the WMS automatically supports this transition without the need to synchronize inventory or documents.
There are also permanent barter items. If item A and item B are practically equal for customers, the system can automatically consider the stocks of both goods for delivery. In addition, there is the “Auto-Cancellation” function. Because manual cancellation is not an option due to the mass of documents and the business relationships between the store as customer and the central warehouse as supplier, quantities that cannot be delivered are automatically cancelled under certain conditions in order to optimize processes.
Robust hardware for paperless order processing
Instead of using order lists to walk or drive along the rows of shelves in the central warehouse, employees now use mobile hardware “made in Germany” that has replaced the error-prone and time-consuming paper economy. Devices of the pro-V-pad type from proLogistik are used. These feature an impact-resistant plastic housing and an extremely stable, hardened and wear-free capacitive touch surface.
Quality promise also secured in the future
With the introduction of a new ERP solution and the subsequent implementation of the warehouse management system pL-Store Foodline from proLogistik, the long-established retail company K+K Klaas + Kock B.V. & Co. KG, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, has taken decisive steps into the digital age. Nevertheless, people continue to play a crucial role. “Our warehouse personnel now also appreciate the system support; many things are easier and quicker for them and there are fewer errors,” summarizes K+K project manager Mr. Verbunt. “Last but not least, the transparency gained over all inventories combined with reduced handling effort and improved security of supply are important,” says Rob. Verbunt continues. After all, K + K wants to remain close to the customers who place their trust in the retail company.