Following a merger in 2010, Erhardt & Fischer required a new distribution centre, and enlisted the help of Dematic to develop an intelligent and cost-effective order fulfilment solution.

With timing critical, Dematic worked hard to meet E&F’s demanding start-up schedule of just six months from placing the order. The 4,000 sqm DC was fitted out with a combination of existing and new materials handling and storage equipment, together with completely new integrated communications and IT systems.

E & F holds more than 10,000 stock items and a variety of storage and order picking methods are used at the new DC to suit different product sizes, weights and handling requirements.

Fast moving goods are typically housed in shelving, with a unit load storage area providing capacity for the storage of more than 1,000 pallets.

Systems integration the key

A key element in Dematic’s integrated solution was interfacing E&F’s ERP system with Dematic’s WCS. The ERP system transfers customer orders to DC Director, which identifies and transmits route-optimised picking instructions to employees equipped with voice-directed computer terminals. These voice computers are connected via a digital Voice Manager to the WCS, which instructs pickers where to go and what to pick.

With Dematic’s WCS providing wide-ranging functionality spanning the entire warehouse – including picking, inventory control and shipping – it has helped to reduce picking errors, misreads and mistakes, and virtually eliminated expensive and time-consuming quality control procedures.

Hands-free, eyes-free order picking

Pickers wear a headset and a portable, beltmounted voice computer terminal, which communicates to the host computer via a wireless LAN.

With no paperwork, operators are free to push their pick carts and to pick with both hands. Traditional picking tasks such as reading, writing and searching for stock locations are eliminated.

The use of pick carts enables the parallel processing of up to 16 orders at a time by each employee.
After all of the goods for an order have been picked, they are forwarded to the packing area,
which includes five integrated packing stations.

Virtually error-free picking

With the DC typically processing around 800 orders a day, the accuracy of Dematic’s solution is
impressive with stock availability at 96% and an error rate of less than 0.1%.

“With the new order processing procedures, productivity has doubled, providing E&F with a rapid return on investment (ROI). We are very satisfied with the advantages and flexibility offered by the
future-ready Dematic solution,” said E&F’s Managing Director, Tony Volz.

Dematic’s powerful DC Director and a pick-by-voice application for order picking form the basis of a new order fulfilment system for German paper and IT products distributor Erhardt & Fischer.

System Benefits

  • Short implementation period of six months
  • All stock master data maintained online
  • Cross-process optimisation of resources and goods flow
  • Route-optimised voice-directed picking
  • Error rate close to zero
  • Increased process reliability
  • Fast order turnaround
  • Flexibility for changing business processes
  • Improved quality of delivery
  • Sustainable plant design
  • Rapid ROI

Click here now to contact Dematic Real Time Logistics for more information about the benefits of Voice-directed solutions >

This story first appeared in Issue 6 of Dematic’s global magazine, Dematic Logistics Review. Subscribe to the magazine at

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