Würth’s business idea is so much more than selling products. With smart logistics and service, they want to simplify life for their customers — and that has made them a global leader.
German company Würth is the world’s largest supplier of consumable materials for craftspeople, industrial enterprises, construction companies and automotive body shops. The company currently has operations in 83 countries and has 65,000 employees. The offering includes an entire 200,000 items, everything from screws and tools to chemical engineering products and work clothes.
“Our goal is to make things easier for customers and help them save time and money,” says Stein Inge Viset, logistics manager for Würth in Norway.
He explains that logistics throughout the Nordic countries function more or less the same way. Each country has a central warehouse that receives deliveries from three main warehouses in Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia. In turn, the central warehouse supplies the customers and Würth’s stores in the country.
Today, Würth has a delivery precision of 98 percent in the entire Nordic region. With InNight deliveries, customers who order items from the central warehouse can receive them the very next day, delivered straight to their own warehouse, workplace or the nearest Würth store for pick-up.
“Our philosophy is to always be located near our customers, so we have many branches with a wide geographical distribution in each country,” says Stein Inge Viset.
But certain items must always be on-hand. An essential part of Würth’s offering is therefore the ORSY concept, which stands for ordning och reda satt i system, or, order and clarity in the system. It is based on a shelf system placed with the customer that Würth regularly fills, while also managing items, inventory and purchase statistics. This saves the customer from having to search for consumables or send someone out to buy them.
According to Stein Inge Viset, the biggest challenge of having flexible logistics is probably satisfying the various demands of major customers.
“The trend is currently going toward shorter lead times and delivery in a specified time frame. It’s also becoming common for customers to want all items for a particular project delivered in the same container to a specific location at a precise time. Some customers also want their items packed in a special way, rather than in their original packaging,” he says.
In recent years, Würth has worked a great deal to streamline and bring down logistics costs.
“Long-term, we’re working to reduce how many suppliers we have, which will mean smoother deliveries to warehouses and less administration. Efficiency measures take time, but they’re incredibly important for us to be able to offer customers the least expensive, most effective logistics possible.”
3 QUESTIONS to Stein Inge Viset on Würth's logistics in the Nordic region
- How do the warehouses work in the Nordic region? The warehouses are largely fully automated. In Norway, we have a pick-by-voice system; only the picking process is manual. In Norway, Denmark and Finland, pickers have to get to the items themselves, but in Sweden, a so-called goods-to-man solution is being built, where a machine retrieves the carton for the picker instead. Norway is also in line for such a solution.
- Do you have a webshop? Yes, today we have e-commerce solutions in all of the Nordic countries. Through e-commerce, customers can access all of our items, even those at the main warehouses in Europe. Sales aren’t huge, but they will grow. Industrial and professional markets have long lagged behind the consumer market when it comes to e-commerce, but they’re starting to catch up.
- Do you have any smart solutions you want to share? Yes, when we load a container of goods for a store or customer, it’s important that the goods are ordered properly. We used to have a conveyor belt system here at the warehouse in Norway that sorted the cartons so that they ended up in the right order in the container automatically. But there were bottlenecks. Now we’re letting PostNord manage sorting at their terminal instead, before the items are shipped to customers, and that’s going well.
FoWürth is the world’s largest consumable materials company for craftspeople, industrial enterprises, construction companies and automotive body shops. The company has 200,000 items in its selection, most of which are under its own brand.
Funded: In 1945 in Germany by Adolf Würth, and has continued to be a family business.
Markets: operations in 84 countries
Number of employees: 65,000
Sales: around SEK 100 billion
Group headquarters: Künzelsau, southern Germany
Main warehouse: Oslo
Number of shops: 46
Main warehouse: Örebro
Number of shops: 28
Main warehouse: Kolding
Number of shops: 22
Main warehouse: Riihimäki
Number of shops: 120
PostNord assignment: Manages deliveries from the central warehouses in Norway, Finland and Denmark to customers and stores in each country.