Logistics service provider SCA Transforest has streamlined its warehouse processes and improved visibility across its European distribution network since it invested in a warehouse management system from RedPrairie.
The company, which is part of SCA Group’s Forest Products, reckons the real-time system has made it “much easier” to plan logistics operations accurately, and boosted warehouse capacity.
Previously, a warehouse planner would allocate warehouse locations for all inbound goods. Locations were reserved and often empty for days before the goods arrived. Today, warehouse operators just scan the barcode of the received goods and the system instantly directs them to the specific stock location, or carrier if direct loading is possible.
SCA’s Forest Products produces publication papers for newspapers, magazines and catalogues, pulp, solid-wood products and forest-based biofuels, and 3PL SCA Transforest’s terminals provide stevedoring, warehousing, forwarding, customs clearance, ships agency and other related services.
The 3PL transports products from mills in Sweden by truck, barge, or train to its terminals in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal.
The company decided that to expand the business further the next step would be to focus on improving its IT infrastructure to meet the demands of new customers.
For some time it had managed warehouse and distribution processes from custom-designed, home-grown warehouse management systems, specifically built to support forest products.
But these systems were not flexible enough to process different types of goods or meet individual customer requirements. Each terminal system worked individually and in isolation, since there was no visibility across the business.
So the company opted for a best-of-breed warehouse management system from RedPrairie, which it implemented at the largest and most complex terminals first, and then trickled down to the associated terminals.
The two companies developed a system template that would cover the complexity of each of the terminals; that could be applied for each implementation; and that would ensure that system could be rolled out to new sites in a quick and cost-effective way.
The first of the nine sites to go live (in March 2007) was the terminal in Umeå, Sweden, which has an 807,295 sq ft warehouse capacity. Later the same year the terminal in Sundsvall, Sweden, with a 753,473 sq ft warehouse, went live, and in 2008 the remaining two main terminals went live in London (538,195 sq ft warehouse), and Rotterdam in the Netherlands (791,147 sq ft warehouse).
Combined, these four main terminals manage some 6.7 million tonnes of goods annually. SCA Transforest system owner, Thomas Granberg, says: “The system meant more efficient use of our warehouse space and we are now able to manage higher volumes. The direct loading of goods to the ships or trucks has been greatly improved.”
Since the Rotterdam installation, SCA Transforest has rolled out the system across Europe and it has now gone live at sites in Skövde, Sweden (February 2009), Vasa Finland (March 2009), and Dublin, Ireland (April 2009).
The eighth site went live in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2009 and the ninth and final site will be implemented in September this year in Lübeck, Germany.
“Customers choose us because they can easily integrate their systems with ours and gain maximum control. Our customers can now track their goods all the way from mill to end customer. We have achieved the goals we set,” says Granberg.