CB has been an unchallenged leader in media logistics for a long time and, a few years ago, it voiced its ambition to grow further. Because the market for media logistics is under pressure, the logistics service provider has identified two new sectors with which to achieve those growth ambitions: health care and fashion. "We are good in logistics and network distribution and are present on every Dutch high street. So, why should we not use these skills for products other than books? Our aim is to achieve by 2015 a 25 per cent of turnover from sectors in which we weren't active a couple of years ago. We knew early on that, in order to achieve that, we need new investment in IT", says Ronald Janssen, CB's IT Director.
CB currently operates three different WMS systems. Most of the logistics is managed by a customised system specifically developed for the product book. Although the automated high bay warehouse for books has a stable system, it is now behind the times as it is based on an outdated programming language. Finally, CB operates a standard WMS for all other activities, but that system is not a suitable solution in the long term. "We could build a WMS ourselves again, as we have done in the past, but we found out early that there are enough mature systems on the market covering almost all the functionalities that we need", says Janssen.
Extensive selection process
The choice of Astro WMS was preceded by an extensive selection process that had lasted almost a year. Under the guidance of an external consultant, a team of four from CB's Logistics and IT departments came up with a short list of four WMS systems, all of which were roughly as good as each other. Janssen: "We have, therefore, built additional steps into the process and asked the suppliers to give us their views on three challenges we were facing, including our desire to extend our current, mostly mechanised, procedure for books to new customers in health care and fashion. That brought us a wealth of new information and the short list was whittled down to two WMS suppliers. In the end, Consafe Logistics proved to be a clear winner."
Consafe Logistics stood out from the other WMS suppliers in various respects. One important factor in choosing Consafe Logistics is the fact that Astro WMS can also be used as a warehouse control system (WCS), i.e. to control mechanisation in CB's warehouses. Another positive attribute is the IT architecture of WMS as it implements upgrades within a previously custom-made solution. "We also wanted a WMS supplier that is based in Europe and one that has a Dutch implementation team with implementation experience in the Netherlands. Consafe Logistics meets those requirements and offers a large implementation capability."
Meanwhile, CB has made a start in implementing Astro WMS. At the moment, specifications for integration with the current order management system are being drawn up. "Implementation of the new WMS is part of a larger project which is aimed at extending the integrated services we have developed for the media sector to the health care and fashion sectors."
By the beginning of 2015, Astro WMS must become operational for the first existing client in the health care sector. "Obviously, we are also looking at the same time into how we can use this system for other business propositions within health care and fashion. In health care, we are currently working on a pilot project where we are consolidating and delivering at fixed times shipments from ten different suppliers to seven hospitals. In addition, we are starting a test project where we are going a step further: replenishing hospital storage cabinets using RFID technology. This places special demands on the WMS. One of them is the ability to combine items held by various client into a single shipment."
However, it will take some years more before CB's three existing WMS systems are replaced with Astro WMS. Janssen has every confidence in working with Consafe Logistics over a long-term period. "The way in which we worked together during the selection phase fills me with great hope. Consafe Logistics have always been prompt and accurate in answering our questions. We have a strong connection with the people from Consafe Logistics and that provides the basis for good cooperation", says Janssen.
Consafe Logistics, too, is looking forward to working with CB. Donald Houben, Managing Director of Consafe Logistics in the Netherlands: "We are proud that a leading logistics service provider like CB has opted for us. Implementation projects for our existing customers in health care and fashion, such as a recent one for Helly Hansen, demonstrate that we have plenty of experience in these sectors. That gives us a lot of confidence that implementation for CB will be successful, too."