Programmed for new Customers
18.09.2020, Plattling, Gelsenkirchen, Aschaffenburg
The logistics service provider FineCom offers a wide range of services, individually processed depending on the customer’s needs. These needs are mapped out by the warehouse management system xStorage, which uses multi carrier shipping software and scanners, provided by the MHP Solution Group, to facilitate customers. Whether it’s dietary supplements, textiles, shoes, kitchen items or sex toys: The diverse range of customers at Alt FineCom Finishing-eCommerce-Logistics GmbH is huge which places the highest of demands on the flexibility of the software. For example, while best-before dates and batch numbers are important for foodstuffs and perishables, the colours, sizes and returns of items are much more important for textiles. In addition, each manufacturer has their own idea about quality assurance for the individual steps between incoming goods, item picking and shipping, which would be impossible to be managed without IT support.
The Introduction: Baptism by fire
We work out an individual logistics and security concept for each customer for the goods entrusted to us,” explains Franz S. Alt, who is part of the third generation of the family to run the company. The required warehouse management system (WMS) must not only be multi-client capable, but also extremely flexible and adaptable. “In 2017, after a thorough selection phase with the help of the Fraunhofer Institute, we decided on xStorage from the MHP Solution Group,” recalls Alt, adding: “The great commitment of the solution-oriented employees and the open structure of the software convinced us in the end.
The baptism by fire took place during the introduction: Our first client had 200,000 parts in stock, which had to be moved within a week and a half. “At that time we were under great time pressure, but MHP was available to us around the clock,” Alt emphasizes. Alt also sees MHP’s broad range of solutions, which includes xStorage, the multi-carrier shipping software V-Log, hosting services in its own data centre and complete hardware services, as a further plus point. For example, the 150 or so Honeywell data terminals used by FineCom come from MHP subsidiary Panda Products, who also takes care of the maintenance and repair of the equipment.
700 Percent Growth
“It is extremely practical for us to be able to obtain the entire IT infrastructure from just one supplier,” emphasizes Alt, who talks to his contacts at MHP several times a week. “Mostly it’s about additional customer specifications that have to be mapped into xStorage at short notice,” reports the entrepreneur, who constantly commutes back and forth between the company locations in Plattling, Aschaffenburg and Gelsenkirchen. “We are glad that MHP’s support team works with very uncomplicated structures and that implementation can always be depended upon immediately without lengthy quotation and approval phases,” emphasizes Alt, who describes the relationship with MHP as trusting and fair.
From time to time FineCom requires a new interface between V-Log and a new transport service provider. In this regard, the logistics provider works with all well-known providers such as DPD, GLS, DHL, Hermes, UPS, FedEx, Asendia, the Austrian Postal Service, who handle around 25,000 to 30,000 parcels daily. “When we started with xStorage and V-Log, this figure was still at 4,000 parcels,” explains Alt, who expects further growth in the future. The 700 percent increase in mail volume in just two years has not affected the performance of the software, the WMS, the shipping software and the servers rented at the MHP computer centre have proven to be very reliable and robust. “Fortunately, there are no major problems, xStorage and V-Log increase the efficiency of our processes enormously,” admits Alt.
The processes between incoming goods, quality control, garment processing, warehouse, shipping and returns handling are all digitised at FineCom. Each step is supported, accompanied and documented by xStorage and the software adapts to each customer and their specifications. For example, FineCom works as a fulfilment service provider for the online trade of a large German brand manufacturer of kitchen products.
By request, this company offers its knives with personal engraving, which is then applied by a trained warehouse employee during the order picking process. “In these cases, xStorage calculates the optimum process for picking the products to be individualised in a route-optimised manner,” explains Alt and for quality assurance, the engraving must be confirmed on the display of the mobile data terminal.
Returns processing places completely different demands on the software as the quota of returns in the textile sector is still at a high level, FineCom manages these high levels of returns with professional processing. After scanning the returns delivery invoice, xStorage informs the employee whether the item in question could be returned or whether the deadline has already expired. The software also provides specific information on what needs to be taken into account during this process – such as an intact hygiene seal.
xStorage also adapts itself individually to the preferred picking strategies of customers. “We currently have around 15 strategies stored with us, which are automatically activated depending on the client, the volume of consignments and the time of day,” says Alt, whose employees pick up to 120,000 order items every day. For example, when the transport service provider’s pickup time approaches, individual orders are started for the last orders instead of multi-order picking. Another helpful feature is the visual support that shows the corresponding product photo on the display with every scan of an item.
High Inventory Accuracy
During the shipping process, a final quality control is then carried out depending on the customer’s requirements and the value of the item. Apart from customer satisfaction, the main focus here is on inventory accuracy: “When it comes to high-quality jackets with a sale price of over 1,000 EUR or dresses for up to 15,000 EUR, there must be no mix-ups,” explains Alt, who also carries out inventories with xStorage, here the WMS supports all methods from key date to permanent inventory.
The flexibility of the software is one of the main reasons for FineCom’s rapid growth over the past two years. “We can adapt to any new customer within a few days because xStorage does not restrict us in any way and MHP’s support responds quickly,” Alt sums it up.
Background: Alt FineCom Finishing-eCommerce-Logistics GmbH
Alt FineCom Finishing-eCommerce-Logistics GmbH is a logistics service provider specialising in finishing for the textile industry as well as in the area of eCommerce fulfilment and B2B contract logistics. The medium-sized company also offers a wide range of value added services, these include, import and customs clearance services as well as the control and processing of high-quality items, individualised shipping and returns concepts, comprehensive quality controls and the reconditioning of returned parts.
Founded in 1954 as a launderette, the company has been operating as a logistics service provider focusing on textiles since the opening of the Deggendorf site in 1991. Today, FineCom employs around 300 people at its sites in Plattling (headquarters), Aschaffenburg and Gelsenkirchen and manages 90,000 square meters of logistics and storage space.
Background: MHP Solution Group
The MHP Solution Group GmbH, founded in 1999 and based in Neustadt am Rübenberge near Hanover, is one of the leading providers of integrated logistics solutions for service providers, industry and trade. The group employs around 300 people in ten subsidiaries organised in the product areas of Transport (BNS GmbH Düsseldorf, Transdata Software GmbH & Co. KG Bielefeld), Warehouse (aisys Advanced Information Systems GmbH Würzburg, KDL Logistiksysteme GmbH Hamburg, LogControl GmbH Pforzheim, Panda Products Barcode-Systeme GmbH Norderstedt), Shipping (MHP Software GmbH Neustadt, MHP Software S.L. Spain) and Customs (TIA innovations GmbH Böblingen, AZ Außenwirtschafts- und Zollberatungsgesellschaft GmbH Albstadt).
You can find the article here on the Logistra homepage.