30/11/2016 | Hardis Group

The implementation of the warehouse management software and the expertise and support of Hardis Group's teams have radically transformed the cooperative's logistics practices, improving productivity, service quality and warehouse ergonomics.

Hardis Group, a digital services company and independent software vendor, has announced that Nantes-based fruit and vegetable cooperative Océane has deployed Reflex WMS to manage its 13,000 m² fruit and vegetable warehouse. The solution has enabled Océane to implement new picking processes and improve productivity and service quality to support its strong growth.

A bigger warehouse to handle growth

Set up in 1993, Océane is an agricultural cooperative company bringing together 70 producers in the Nantes area. In 2015, the company shipped 89,000 metric tons of fruit and vegetables, generating revenues of 110 million euros. Its customers include 200 supermarkets and hypermarkets in France and numerous export customers in the European Union, particularly in Germany.

In 2014, with annual sales growth of 10% and an increasingly diverse range of products offered to customers, Océane commenced a project to extend its only warehouse from 5,000 to 13,000 m². The cooperative decided to take the opportunity to acquire warehouse management software in order to set up a new logistics organization, industrialize its order picking and shipping processes and have access to management indicators (business monitoring, optimization of material flows and storage, etc.).

The specific challenges of fruit and vegetable logistics

For this project, Océane called on the skills of an external agency to draw up comprehensive specifications including all the specific characteristics of fruit and vegetable logistics: high level of seasonality, storage locations changing according to volumes, storage constraints management (temperature, humidity, etc.), best before dates, etc.

Five software vendors were then invited to tender to provide a solution able to comprehensively cover the requirements as standard. "We weren't looking for anything specific to the strategic aspects of our business nor to the everyday functionality," explained Nicolas Hatton, Logistics Platform Manager at Océane. In the end, Reflex WMS was chosen particularly for its ability to natively manage fruit and vegetable storage constraints, volumes which vary enormously from one season to another and requirements planning. In addition to the functionality, the range of available interfaces (enabling simple and rapid login with the ERP system) and the project methodology proposed by Hardis Group won Océane over.

Logistics process optimization

The final decision was made at the end of 2014 and work commenced on writing detailed functional analyses followed by the setup phase which was completed in the second half of 2015. As expected, Reflex WMS' numerous standard features covered most of the cooperative's constraints and specific requirements. Once peak season was over, testing commenced in fall 2015 and the solution was released in early 2016.

"We decided not to tell our customers and apparently no-one noticed any delays or problems or we would have known about it!" said Nicolas Hatton. Warehouse operatives and pickers are equipped with new generation touchscreen radio-frequency devices. They were trained just before the changeover and quickly mastered the new system. Seasonal staff also rapidly acquired the necessary skills. "It now only takes one day rather than about three weeks for our seasonal staff to learn how to use the system independently," explained the logistics platform manager.

In addition, the management indicators that are now available thanks to Reflex WMS provide Océane teams with a real-time view of the process, particularly loading status or compliance with departure times, without having to trawl the bays. This information also benefits carriers, who are able to optimize their pick-up and delivery times.

More generally, the whole logistics organization has been optimized. Prior to implementing Reflex, the cooperative only had one preparation process but it is now exploring new picking, collection and cross-docking methods. "Reflex has not only met our requirements but has enabled us to absorb our growth while optimizing our logistics organization," added Nicolas Hatton.

Océane deploys Reflex WMS to manage its fruit and vegetable warehouse