Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Ford implements Infor warehouse management in Europe

Steve Rogerson
January 31, 2017
Ford is implementing Infor’s SCE flagship warehouse management system in seven European countries. The cloud-based software will automate the process of transferring goods at Ford's ten cross-docking centres, thus enabling a more efficient use of personnel and resources.
Since this is not implemented in a traditional on-premise manner on Ford-owned servers, its external partners can also securely access the system.
Ford operates its European cross-docking centres in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary and UK. In these warehouses, such as Cologne or Saarlouis, hundreds of lorry deliveries are serviced daily by the local logistics service provider to ensure consistent production supply.
The workflows in the warehouses must be perfectly coordinated, as the parts are transported just in time to Ford's final assemblies. The parts are supposed to be stored for no longer than half a day in the buffer stocks that are placed circularly around the production lines. After that they are assembled just in sequence.
All docking centre processes are to be fully digitalised. Infor SCE will receive advanced shipping notes that announce projected deliveries including their scheduling and quantity. Shippers are notified about the unloading point and the respective time slots. Upon reception, all delivery notes are scanned and tendered through cross-docking processes in accordance with the delivery plan. Larger transport volumes for different final assemblies are divided into several assigned staging zones for shipping preparation.
Damaged pallets or handling units are also digitally reported in the warehouse management system in the returns process. Damage must be documented photographically during goods receipt and sent to the supplier for the purpose of complaint resolution by means of an electronic workflow to trigger a direct subsequent delivery.
Consistent scanning processes in these centres enable fast and accurate parts handling, largely without interim storage. From the staging zones in the dispatch, scanner-supported loading is carried out at the loading station electronically assigned to the forwarder. With dispatch notification, the SCE notifies the final assembly plant about the incoming consignment.
With this overall process, the software also increases transparency in the supply chain. Ford can track the order fulfilment in real time and thus respond proactively to potential supply bottlenecks.
The warehouse management system makes staff deployment more efficient for service providers too. Standard processes help employees of newly found providers quickly familiarise themselves with the system. Since the software is to be used in all docking centres, processes and key performing indicators can be measured, monitored, benchmarked and optimised across all locations.
"The automotive industry is in a state of change," said Michael Weidel, director of supply chain management at Infor. “Now it is important to further optimise the margin situation for the current car models to prepare for future developments in electronic mobility. It is therefore essential that car manufacturers efficiently integrate their suppliers and logistics service providers into logistics networks to gain further efficiency and alignment in the supply chain. Cloud applications such as Infor SCE enable this collaboration. Ford will soon be able to make the processes at its cross-docking centres across Europe more efficient, cost-effective and transparent."