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Deluxe fashion logistics

As a successful apparel company in the higher quality and price range, PETER HAHN relies on the bundling of its logistics processes and an integrated, holistic system. This software makes it possible: the warehouse management system inconsoWMS, with which the total capacity of the facility could be increased by about ten percent.

What began in 1964 with the production and sale of jackets, coats and blankets made of exotic llama hair is now a growing fashion company with locations throughout Europe. PETER HAHN now sells over 250 brands by catalog, over the Internet and in stores. Using a multichannel system, the company controls store deliveries to 21 apparel stores in Germany and Switzerland as well as Europe-wide deliveries to end customers in nine other European countries: Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

Fashion logistics challenge
Equipped with extended high-tech storage and conveyor systems, the central distribution center at Winterbach headquarters provides space for shipping up to 9 million items per year on approx. 40,000 square meters. During the migration project, PETER HAHN was particularly interested in creating a solution that is both modern and integrable, which allows for the bundled planning and control of logistic processes and the seamless connection of technical components. After all, it is the seasonal, but also event-driven orientation of the fashion industry that requires high process reliability. In addition, the business model primarily targets senior citizens and has high quality requirements for products, services and logistics.

 

Compared to the past, we have reduced paper-bases process significantly in our goods receiving and shipping process areas.

 

On the way to the future
The fully owned subsidiary of TriStyle Mode GmbH has been growing for over 50 years. PETER HAHN started expanding and modernizing its logistics capacities in 2017 together with inconso. In the fulfillment version tailored to the special requirements in Winterbach, a centralized, powerful solution was implemented that bundles the processes of the nearby external warehouses.

The warehouse management system combines, for example, demand-oriented replenishment control for the storage of about 80,000 different items. It also controls multi-step picking and automatically checks that packages are complete in goods receiving and goods issue. PETER HAHN records up to 4,000 inbound goods per month – and up to 35,000 throughout the year. With its new logistics landscape, PETER HAHN has created a future-proof basis that is geared to the growing shipping figures of e-commerce and simplifies handling by means of ergonomic workstations and graphical dashboards. By choosing the integrable software basis inconsoWMS, PETER HAHN is preparing for future projects. With the new solution, migration to a modern, comprehensive ERP system is also possible, something PETER HAHN is currently working on. 

The crux of hanging goods
The process optimizations for controlling goods are impressive. The warehouse management system supports differentiated control of flat goods and hanging goods in goods receiving and the storage areas provided for it. In Winterbach, flat goods are temporarily stored at pallet locations, then prepared, counted, consolidated, labeled and stored in. The system supports employees in carrying out these activities via MDTs (mobile data terminals) and has greatly improved the speed of the store-in process. 

Hanging goods, on the other hand, are temporarily stored and also prepared on a buffer conveyor designed for this. Subsequent transport to the target area is handled by the conveyor system. After picking, the goods are transferred to the packing area using the RFID-supported Wheely system (bag sorter). The bag sorter provides 15,000 bags for flat goods and space for 9,000 hangers for hanging goods.

Preparation for shipping
Regular shipping preparation starts with automatic batch creation at four a.m. With the implementation of inconsoWMS, an optimized picking strategy was developed that enables all outbound goods to be optimally combined and consolidated. One of the system’s key features is intelligent order planning based on flexible, resource-optimized picking in waves or batches. Picking strategies based on this ensure high quality in the supply of all sales channels through efficient processing.

Another wave follows at midday for inbound express deliveries that have to be delivered to customers within 24 hours. The warehouse management system not only supports PETER HAHN in efficiently controlling orders, but also in checking that packages in goods receiving and goods issue are complete. Once orders have been consolidated  into a shipping package, they are packed at one of 40 workstations and provided with shipping labels and accompanying documents via print on demand.

Shipment process flow
Up to 30,000 packages per day are processed in Winterbach. For shipping processes that can range from small, single orders to large replenishment orders, more comprehensive system features are required in many cases. Therefore, PETER HAHN also relies on the shipping and dispatch system developed by inconso, which combines additional functionalities for shipping processing. When goods are shipped, inconsoSDS also sends relevant information to the logistics service providers involved. The parcels are automatically scanned and transported to the gate of the assigned CEP service provider.

On a side note, returns are rarely an issue at PETER HAHN – a remarkable feat in an industry that is characterized by returns. PETER HAHN, with its target group of women aged 45 and older, primarily focuses on customers that know what they want. For this reason, complex returns processing, common in the textiles industry, is avoided for some of the goods sold over the Internet. 

Delivery to stores
Integration of the warehouse management system even extends to PETER HAHN stores. Directly at Peter-Hahn-Platz in Winterbach, fashion consultants are able to view stocks and reserve goods for customers. The goods can be picked directly in the warehouse. Garments are available to store customers after a short coffee break.

Future-proof and expandable
The new software landscape in Winterbach went live in June 2018. The warehouse management and shipping processing system was adopted by big bang, i.e.  it went live during ongoing operation. In preparation for this, the sorter and conveyor technology were connected and the warehouse management system was given control of them. Both distribution channels – branch and end customer delivery – can be optimally managed. 

The logistics IT innovations in the warehouse management and shipping system are part of a multi-stage modernization plan that the apparel retailer continued in 2019 in collaboration with inconso. “The inconso project team convinced us with their technical know-how and deep process understanding during the smooth migration,” which Gerhard Krauth, Head of Logistics at PETER HAHN, emphasizes.

 

Interview: Gerhard Krauth, Head of Logistics at PETER HAHN

 

inconso: Mr. Krauth, how important do you think IT is for a sustainable corporate strategy?

Gerhard Krauth: IT is very important. In a market that is changing faster and faster, a flexible and scalable system is needed as the basis for new processes or necessary modifications. IT thus guarantees the economic success of a company – including PETER HAHN.

inconso: In this light, why did you choose to implement inconsoWMS?

Gerhard Krauth: inconsoWMS is a very good solution for our multichannel strategy. inconso has been successful in this market for years and has an abundance of experience in our industry. Also, inconso visited us on-site many times before our project. Over time, this built trust. In the end, this was also a deciding factor in choosing inconso.

inconso: How did you feel about the project and project management during the migration?

Gerhard Krauth: The team impressed us with its great process understanding. All processes were analyzed and evaluated in detail. The procedure was always clearly structured and goal-oriented. All deadlines agreed to were met and there was no fluctuation. inconso impressed us with its reliability and commitment. This meant that despite the packed and hectic schedule, we finished on time. 

inconso: Which process areas do you think have improved most?

Gerhard Krauth: Compared to the past, we have reduced paper-based process siginificantly in our goods receiving and shipping process areas,  because we now work electronically – a big step towards digitization. Especially for stock taking and packing, we were able to optimize processes with inconsoWMS and increase our productivity significantly.

inconso's warehouse management system is a very good solution for our multichannel strategy.

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