PickStar increases delivery reliability and customer satisfaction

Pick to light opens doors for ASSA ABLOY

ASSA ABLOY is the global leader in door opening solutions, dedicated to satisfying enduser needs for security, safety and convenience. Comprising of operations in over 60 countries world-wide and with over 42,000 employees, they are uniquely placed to serve the global marketplace with a range of safe, convenient, secure and reliable automatic entrance solutions. The Besam division was incorporated into the ASSA ABLOY group in 2002 and are focused on pedestrian entrance systems for the commercial market worldwide. Quality is a key component in the suc-cess of this global organisation making it no surprise that they constantly look for ways to improve their production processes to unlock further gain in qua-lity improvement. At their production facility near Plzen in the Czech Repu-blic, ASSA ABLOY turned to Pcdata to improve their parts picking operation with the implementation of the PickStar pick-to-light system. The implementa-tion has led to significant increases in delivery reliability and accuracy of parts picking and thus led to the most impor-tant goal – customer satisfaction.

The Cost of Claims

The customer is at the heart of the ASSA ABLOY supplier approach. This focus on quality and customer satisfac-tion was being let down by the reliabi-lity of some of the processes in place, particularly in the case of parts picking. Radek Poskocil, Head of Production Quality & Engineering at ASSA ABLOY says that delivery accuracy left a lot to be desired in the past.
He illustrates this with a file from his records: “This is a sample of claims re-ceived in 2011. Our analysis shows that 80% of the total number were directly related to missing or incorrect items shipped”
Resolving each claim also leads to significant cost. The additional cost of handling, returns, administration and additional visits by field engineers soon mounts up. “We calculated that with all the ‘hidden’ costs included, a claim would cost us as much as €450. Put simply, it was costing far too much to deliver the guaranteed quality we were aiming for. Something had to change”.


Maximum Flexibility

To tackle this issue, the project team at ASSA ABLOY looked closely at several potential options such as voice or RF Scanning but finally chose the pick-to-light technology of Pcdata. Radek ex-plains some of the thinking behind their supplier selection process: “In our case pick-to-light is much more flexible than a scanning solution. With pick-to-light we can very quickly and easily adjust the order assembly area if required when we add new components. We do not need to worry about getting our suppliers to barcode label or RF tag every product. We also have a large number of SKU’s which are very diffi-cult to tag or barcode due to their size. We now have one solution that suits the whole assortment of products and fu-ture flexibility is guaranteed”Alongside the flexibility of the system, Radek ex-plains that the fact Pcdata had succes-sfully delivered a pick-to-light solution at sister company FlexiForce in Barn-veld NL was also an important factor. “Although FlexiForce installed a more extensive system in the beginning, it was an excellent reference. They had already been working successfully with the technology for 5 years, had realised the benefits and had a positive experience with the supplier. Due to this we were also convinced about the knowledge, quality and professional approach of Pcdata.”

Further Opportunities

Pcdata equipped two of the four production lines in the Czech facility with a PickStar Pick to Light system. Previously two separate picking areas, the PickStar implementation enabled them to be combined into one highly efficient picking module with 350 positions in total – with the PickStar solution combining intelligence, software and hard-ware all in one product. The solution has led to increased productivity and a significant reduction in errors originating in the picking process. Radek explains the transition: “We used to work with paper picking lists to pick each production order. This was a laborious and error prone method. Now we can complete the same volume of work with one less operator and even more importantly, claims have dropped more than 55%” Radek also believes there is more gain to be had from the solution: “If we were to use pick-to-light in the other production lines I believe we could make even more improvement. The speed of the ROI makes the investment very attractive. With the original implementation we had ROI from the system in only 7 months!”


Upgrade and Expansion

Before expanding the Pick to Light solution to other areas in the production facility, ASSA ABLOY are also considering upgrading the current system to take more advantage of the technology. One of the possibilities is to use the system for dynamic replenishment, reducing the possibility for items to be out of stock when picking is in progress. This is one of many possibilities when upgrading from PickStar to the more advanced Pcdata product, Distrib. “We are also thinking about introducing integrated weight control” says Radek. “The Pick to Light process is very accurate but some mistakes can still be made. The added control and reliability of weight checking could improve customer satisfaction even further”. PickStar is not designed to handle more complex tasks such as replenishment and PLC controlled check measures. However, when asked about the decision made not to implement Distrib first, Radek is clear: “While PickStar does not have all of the features of Distrib, it does contain 80-90% of all the key picking functionality. By going with PickStar first we could immediately take advantage of the benefits and start saving. In addition, PickStar is incredibly clear and simple to install and use, meaning that the system was installed within a week and a few days later it was operational”. Radek also believes that ASSA ABLOY are now much more experienced with the technology: “We now have a very good idea of what is possible and are in a much better position to specify a fully customized solution to meet all our requirements. And of course, our customers will benefit from this as much as we will!”


Radek Poskocil

Radek Poskocil, manager production quality & engineering at ASSA ABLOY:

“Thanks to PickStar the number of claims has been substantially reduced and we have maxi-mum flexibility.”