“We build store pallets”

Dr. Stefan Bauer is responsible for the business solution software at WITRON. This might sound unglamorous to outsiders at first, and it might conceal the true meaning of the team, because Bauer and his colleagues are working on an important future project of the company from the Upper Palatinate region of Germany - the end-to-end logistics platform.

Question: WITRON is a system provider for physical logistics centers - what do you have to do with end-to-end?

Response: The market continues to develop; our customers continue to develop; and so do we as a solution provider. End-to-end logistics is an important part of the business, which we frequently consider for the design phase and which we are now also bringing to life. In the future, both the functionality and capability of logistics centers as well as the efficiency of logistics ecosystems will depend on the right end-to-end solution, which is why we are addressing this issue now.

Question: But there are already route scheduling tools and supply chain software - why another higher-level system?

Response: That’s true, there are many good solutions that are often not connected with each other. In addition, the systems have no interfaces to automate the logistics center - the center-hub for the goods. Most solutions focus on E-Commerce and the end customer or storage location. There are no solutions for store logistics, which is what we want to deliver. 

Question: Why shouldn’t a route scheduling provider do that?

Response: Route scheduling tools are developed to serve various industries at the same time. We are the experts for the complete supply chain in retail business, develop the automation of the systems, design, analyze, and know the processes in and out. What is important for us is that we are not just dealing with Greenfield projects. We will offer API interfaces that can work with existing systems, which means that the customer can continue to use his/her system environment. 

Question: What does an end-to-end application at WITRON look like?

Response: Think of a trailer that is stuck in a traffic jam. Today, this information is only provided to the dispatcher. The automated warehouses won’t receive any data. This means that the systems run at full capacity in order to transport the pallets as quickly as possible to the outbound area. However, in our case, they would stand there for 90 minutes.  Wouldn’t it be smarter to bring forward other orders or to slow down the warehouse, motors, and drives in order to save energy - these are the questions we have to answer. By the way, this case also works the opposite way - if there are problems in order picking, the trailer can serve other routes first. A second example would be if the logistics center were to make suggestions to the store customers about goods that could still be delivered because of upcoming special holidays or high temperatures being predicted in the region or because there are still items in stock. It all comes down to the fact that it is not a matter of thinking in suboptimal terms, but a matter of keeping an eye on the overall optimum of an ecosystem across all interfaces and of being dynamic dependent of the season or course of business.  

Question: The warehouse is pushing?

Response: No, the logistics center is making suggestions and creates transparency for all store customers. It proposes actions that would make economic and ecological sense from a logistics point of view. The store customer the master of the order. But the warehouse will also suggest alternatives if certain products tend to run low. 

Question: As the logistics center is becoming more important - will it become a new platform for goods and data?

Response: Yes, I agree. The data streams from the supply chain are merging at the logistics center, are being edited, and additionally, processes are being defined accordingly. Our role model is the production planning from the processing industry. We build store pallets for our customers. The control center in the warehouse controls the supply chain. This is where we need a good visualization of the data and a high usability for the employees. Usability and user experience are becoming more important within the processes as they contribute to process stability.

Question: Has the end-to-end solution been demanded by customers?

Response: It is our principle to consistently align all actions with the needs of the market. In addition, “end-to-end-thinking” is firmly rooted within WITRON. For over 15 years, we have been building pallet loads for our customers that are transportation and store-friendly.  Moreover, new technical possibilities also play a role when it comes to the use of data or computer processes. In the end, it is the sum of the factors mentioned that have been driving this innovation.

Question: So, customers are making themselves a bit more dependent on WITRON solutions?

Response: First and foremost, we offer our customers a broad spectrum of options out of our modular system tool box. Depending on the design of the respective logistics ecosystem, a customer can choose the application that provides him/her with the greatest amount of benefits. We already manage many logistics centers for our customers. Consequently, both our customers and WITRON as the supplier profit directly. I do not see any greater dependency for our customers because we do not want to offer an operating system for logistics processes, but rather ensure a great end-to-end benefit on a constant basis.

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