Keller increases delivery reliability and productivity

Keller kitchen factory was designated for years to paper order picking lists for the order picking of thousands of small items a week. In 2011, the errorprone and inefficient method was replaced by a Pcdata Pick to Light and Pick to Colour system. The new system drastically improved Keller’s daily operation. Delivery reliability and productivity have increased sharply. Moreover Keller succeeded to minimize the inventory differences and staff can be deployed more flexible.

For more than 75 years Keller kitchen focuses on the production of quality kitchens for both the business market as the consumer market, both for Dutch internal market and in foreign countries. Every year about 50.000 kitchens are produced in Roosendaal. These kitchens find their way in the comprehensive and international (dealer) network of the company.

For the assembly and finishing of those kitchens, a large number of (small) parts are needed, such as screws, plugs, caps and handles. Until recently these so-called haberdashery were collected using a paper picking list. ”This was a labour-intensive process, which in our view could be more quickly and efficiently” says Gerard Maanders, head of logistics at Keller kitchen.


Best solution

The kitchen manufacturer not only wanted a faster and more efficient picking process; the delivery reliability also had to increase. Next to this the stock differences had to be reduced further and a new system needed to increase flexible deployment of staff. Together with a project team, Maanders researched several options, including the use of scanners. Most of the parts however, are too small to scan efficiently. Next to that, approximately 133.000 items a week are picked. “It would be too devious to scan them all” said Maanders. A Pick to Light system turned out to fulfill the wishes and requirements of Keller the most. In addition, sister company Bruynzeel kitchens, which Keller works together with intensively since 2010, had good experiences with such a Pick to Light system. However with respect to Bruynzeel the commitment turned out to be too small to get the case profitable.


Not profitable

Still, as the head of logistics was convinced of the advantages of Pick to Light, he asked the remaining providers to think of a practical solution that was profitable. At Pcdata, Maanders found exactly what he was looking for: “Their solution was most stable and recognizable for our employees. Also they intensively and best supported us to get the case profitable”. In consultation with Pcdata, Keller decided to use a Pick to Light system for their fast mover items and to do the picking of the B- and C- articles with Pick to Colour. Components that are being picked five times a day or more often, are stored in the Pick to Light area. These fast movers range about 80 SKU’s. The other articles are on the other side of the aisle, in coloured boxes, collected according to the Pick to Colour principle. In that area one light per five storage locations is sufficient. If an article has to be picked from a certain bin, the light in the colour of the corresponding bin lights. By collecting the B- and C- articles according to the Pick to Colour principle, less lights are needed and the control investment is much lower.

Picking area

At the end of 2011 Keller Kitchen switched to the new system, supplied and implemented by Pcdata. In the former haberdashery warehouse a Picking area was placed where the necessary parts are collected according to the Pick to Light and Pick to Colour principles. The required data are retrieved from the ERP system of the kitchen manufacturer, after that the system fulfills a volume calculation and determines how many and which type of boxes are required for the orders. The number of boxes per order is always minimal, the boxes are as small as possible and the weight per box is never over 10 pounds. Then the parts are picked on the basis of the route sequence. The shipping label that is printed automatically by the system, is scanned, after which the displays in the first zone light up. Parallel to lighting up of these displays in the first zone, the first zone of the Pick to Colour system is activated immediately. Fast movers and slow movers are collected simultaneously. As soon as all orders in a zone are picked, the order box is transported on a roller conveyor to the next zone, where the picking process is continued.

More productive and more reliable The system has been operational and running problem-free for nearly two years and the objectives pursued are achieved. The delivery reliability increased according to plan. Samples showed that, prior to the system installed, on every 2,500 picks about 50 picking mistakes were made; an error rate of two percent. “Apart from the sales values this didn’t benefit our reputation”, Maanders knows. ‘’There are backorders, and so extra work needed, customer satisfaction suffers from those errors’’. With the commissioning of the Pick-to-Light system, Keller targeted an accuracy of 99% on picked orders. That goal is amply met; the picking accuracy is even close to 100%.
Next to these achievements, the productivity improvement stands out according to the Head of Logistics: “Improvement in productivity amounts to about 20 percent. There are no more pick lists printed and distributed. In other words, there is less red tape. The necessary information is now entered in the system once, after which the required stickers and packing slips are printed. We can perform the same work more reliable and more efficiently with fewer people. “


More benefits

The third objective, the flexible deployment of staff, was also achieved. The Pick to Light system is intuitive and easy to learn. New people are incorporated within half an hour. As a result, Keller also rotates its employees. Possible capacity constraints are then easier to absorb and the manufacturer is able to offer its employees more variety in work. To adjust the connecting logistic processes, Keller succeeded to minimize the inventory differences. In the old situation the picking stock was replenished once empty. Now there is chosen for a picking bin and a buffer bin, which is placed behind the picking stock. There is always at least one day stock available at the picking locations. By simply replacing the empty bin for full bins, the stocks are supplemented. To prevent error, the bins are equipped with item numbers, barcodes and where possible photos at the back. Articles that are very similar, are logically not together.


Gerard Maanders, Head of Logistics at Keller Kitchens: “We can run the same job more reliable and more efficient with fewer people”