World Leaders in Logistics
Würth's business concept involves much more than just product sales. With their smart logistics and services, they aim to simplify daily life for their customers. This has made them a global leader.
The German company Würth is the world's largest supplier of consumable materials to auto repair shops, tradespeople, and construction and manufacturing companies. The company is present in 83 countries and employs 65,000 people. The range comprises a total of 200,000 products: everything from screws and tools to chemo-technical products and workwear.
"Our goal is to simplify daily life for our customers and help them to save both time and money," says Stein Inge Viset, logistics manager at Würth Norway.
He explains that logistics in the Nordic countries generally work the same way. Each country has a central warehouse that receives deliveries from three main warehouses in Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia. The central warehouse then supplies customers and Würth's own stores in each country.
Today Würth enjoys delivery accuracy of 98% across the entire Nordic region. Thanks to PostNord's InNight system, customers ordering goods from the central warehouse can receive them as quickly as the following day. Items can be delivered directly to the customer's warehouse or to the nearest Würth store for pick-up.
"Our philosophy is to always be near our customers, that's why we have shops spread over a wide geographical area in every country," explains Stein Inge Viset.
But some products have to be constantly available. An important part of the Würth service is therefore the ORSY concept or "Order Systematised". This involves the installation of a rack system at the customer's premises. This is then regularly refilled by Würth, which also handles labelling of products, inventory management and purchasing statistics. In this way, the customer avoids having to search for consumables or dispatch employees to purchase them.
The biggest challenge, according to Stein Inge Viset, is employing logistics that are sufficiently flexible to meet the changing needs of their major customers.
"Right now there is a trend towards shorter lead times and delivery within limited time windows. It is also becoming more common for customers to want all items for a particular project delivered in the same container, to a specific location and at a specific time. Some also want their goods to be packed a certain way and not in the original packaging," he says.
In recent years, Würth has put intensive efforts into streamlining and reducing logistics costs.
"In the long-term, we're working on reducing the number of suppliers because that means smoother deliveries to the warehouses and reduced administration. Streamlining takes time but it is extremely important for us to be able to offer customers the most economical and efficient logistics possible."
Three questions about Würth's logistics in the Nordic region – answered by Stein Inge Viset:
1. How do the Nordic region warehouses work?
For the most part, the warehouses are fully automated. In Norway, we have a Pick-by-Voice system; only the actual picking is done manually.
In Norway, Denmark and Finland, the picker has to collect the goods him/herself, but in Sweden a 'Goods-to-Man' solution is being created, whereby a machine brings boxes to the picker. A similar solution is in the pipeline for Norway too.
2. Do you have online stores?
Yes, we currently have e-commerce solutions in all the Nordic countries. The online store gives our customers access to all our products, including those in the main warehouses across Europe.
Turnover is not very high at the moment but it is going to increase. The industrial and professional market has long trailed behind the consumer market where e-commerce is concerned, but it is beginning to catch up.
3. Any examples of smart solutions you can tell us about?
Yes, when we load a container of goods destined for a store or a customer, it's vital that the goods end up in the correct sequence.
We used to have a conveyor belt system here at the warehouse in Norway, which sorted the boxes to ensure that they automatically ended up in the correct sequence in the container. But there was a bottleneck.
Now we let PostNord handle the sorting at its terminal before goods are sent out to customers, and that works well.
Facts about Würth
Würth is the world's largest supplier of consumable materials to auto repair shops, tradespeople, and construction and manufacturing companies. The group has 200,000 items in its range; the majority are own-brand products.
Established: In 1945 in Germany by Adolf Würth and it remains a family business.
Markets: Present in 84 countries.
Number of employees: 65,000
Turnover: approx. 100 billion kroner
Headquarters: Künzelsau in southern Germany
PostNord's task: To handle the delivery of goods from the central warehouses in Norway, Finland and Denmark to customers and stores in each country.
Main warehouse: Oslo
Number of stores: 46
Main warehouse: Örebro
Number of stores: 28
Main warehouse: Kolding
Number of stores: 22
Main warehouse: Riihimäki
Number of stores: 120