FlexiForce designs, manufactures and supplies components for manufacturers of overhead doors. The small to mediumsized businesses supplied by FlexiForce were at one time found solely in the Netherlands. Now they are located throughout Europe and often further afield. In order to aid growth in its Hungarian operation, FlexiForce has installed a Pick to Light system from Pcdata, just as it did some years previously in its operation in Barneveld, the Netherlands. Interestingly, this time around the company did not opt for the comprehensive Distrib PTL system, but for a standard PickStar solution instead. While the system is different, the results have been just as compelling!
FlexiForce began using Pick to Light in its Barneveld operation as early as 2004. The supplier of components for overhead doors uses the order picking technology for assembling hardware sets containing bolts, nuts, screws, bearing plates and other pieces of hardware. “Manufacturers of overhead doors can purchase all their components from us in bulk. However, we do also supply fully customised kits that contain all components to manufacture a door in accordance with a specified model and size. In addition to customised rails and springs, such a kit consists of a hardware set which includes all the mounting materials an engineer needs”, Hans Lubbers, general director of FlexiForce Nederland, explains.
The contents of the hardware sets are determined by the FlexiForce ERP system, which exactly calculates the required quantity of each product based of the customer order. This bill of material acts as a picking list for the Pick to Light system, supplied by Pcdata. This system manages the displays of the three hundred picking locations where all the small items are stored. The order pickers push a box on the roller conveyor that runs along the picking locations and pick the number of products that correspond with the numbers on the displays. “Thanks to Pick to Light, the number of picking er-rors has been reduced to virtually zero. That is a massive improvement on the previous process, when we frequently had to send components afterwards”, a satisfied Mr Lubbers explains.
Fewer picking errors, shorter turnaround times
In 2012, the positive experience of Pick to Light in Barneveld gave FlexiForce every reason to introduce the technology at their rapidly expanding operation in Hungary. “The application is exactly the same, the composition of hardware sets. Not only does pick-to-light ensure a practically flawless process, it at the same considerably reduces turnaround times”, Lubbers explains.
FlexiForce decided not to wait for any delivery or quality issues to arise in Hungary. Lubbers: “As long as it invol-ves a limited number of hardware sets, it can still be done manually with pen and paper. However, we knew that, in Hungary, the number of hardware sets was set to rise substantially thanks to a number of new projects. Hence we decided to invest proactively”.
FlexiForce did not need to engage in a lengthy supplier selection process. “We did of course consider other sup-pliers, but it soon appeared that there was no reason whatsoever to start doing business with an alternative company. We are extremely satisfied with the performances of Pcdata. Be-sides, they have a proven track-record with our process.
And they are true to their word.” In the autumn of 2012, the pick-to-light system was implemented according to schedule. “The system, that counts 300 picking locations in Hungary, is now fully operation and performs sa-tisfactorily.”