Tchibo Increases Efficiency at Europe's Largest Logistics Hub

Real-time locating system enables retailer to eliminate shipment errors, expedite processing

Santa Clara, CA — March 30, 2004 — Tchibo, a large international retailer, has deployed the standards-based WhereNet real-time locating system (RTLS) and wireless local area network (LAN) for mobile communications to help process more than 6,000 pallets of consumer goods every day.

The WhereNet system is installed at BLG Logistics' almost 400,000-square-foot facility in Bremen, Germany — the largest and most modern logistics hub in Europe. As the exclusive user of the facility, Tchibo said it relies on the WhereNet system to expedite the throughput of more than 100 daily outbound trailers and ensure the accuracy of every shipment as the system verifies that the right pallet is delivered to the right dock door at the right time.

Tchibo said the projected cost savings realized by preventing incorrect shipments from entering the delivery chain would enable the company to achieve a complete return on its WhereNet investment in less than one year.

Additional benefits from the technology include better customer service, more efficient use of labor and increased yard throughput, according to Tchibo.

"Because of our 'a new experience every week' commitment where we offer unique promotions and new product bundles every week, we inherently operate a highly dynamic and time-sensitive logistics environment," said Kay Middendorf, managing director at Tchibo Logistik GmbH.

Middendorf added that Tchibo considered traditional radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, but ultimately chose WhereNet as it provides a complete solution for our daily logistics challenges.

"When every second counts and one misrouted shipment can have significant cost implications across our supply chain, we have no margin for error," she explained. "WhereNet's real-time data capture capability gives us a proven system for verifying that every pallet is loaded onto the right truck to ensure on time shipment departures."

Dipl. Ing. René Kaschel, Manager Technic & IT, BLG Logistics, said "With our high-performance palletizing robots capable of forming pallets at minute intervals from loose cargo on the inbound side, we needed an equally efficient technology to manage the outbound side to maintain a high-velocity distribution environment."

Kaschel said that WhereNet enables BLG Logistics to automate the final few steps of its complex logistics processes, ensuring that every one of its 100 or more daily outbound trailers has the correct load and departs on schedule every day.

"Our Bremen facility is a technology showcase that will help drive additional business for us across Europe as more and more customers like Tchibo embrace a just-in-time logistics model," Kaschel said.

Real-time Visibility, Mobile Communications

Tchibo said it is using WhereNet's wireless infrastructure, which combines both location and WiFi-certified mobile communication capabilities in a single system, to track the whereabouts of an inbound trailer of loose cargo that just arrived from Asia, ensure that a fork lift operator retrieves the correct pallet from the right conveyor, or allow an employee to send a text message alert from his mobile terminal.

In conjunction with robotic palletizing equipment and a sophisticated conveyor system, WhereNet said it helps automate the movement of all incoming and outgoing freight for Tchibo. Specifically, the WhereNet wireless location and communication system enables Tchibo to direct inbound trucks to the correct dock, improve pallet to truck load time, ensure that the right pallet is loaded into the right truck, and enhance process security by reducing forklift traffic.

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