A dedicated facility to manage returns for 600 Lidl stores
GT Logistics, founded in 1946 and part of GT Group, is a family-owned business offering in-situ logistics services (delivered directly on its customers’ sites). The company serves customers in a range of sectors, including civil and military aviation, automotive, nuclear, heavy industry, cosmetics, luxury goods, retail, and more. The logistics provider employs 1,100 people across 46 sites in France.
In June 2015, retail brand Lidl France entrusted GT Logistics with managing non-food returns (clothing, homeware, and small household appliances) for more than 600 stores at its 30,000 sq m warehouse in Rives, southeastern France. “Lidl runs promotional campaigns at its stores every two weeks,” said Sylvain Boerez, Site Manager for the Rives warehouse. “These campaigns generate huge quantities of returns, all of which need to be sorted, packaged, and stored before they’re shipped back to stores. Volumes vary, but we typically handle between 80,000 and 1 million items a week.”
Reflex WMS + mechanization leads to greater efficiency
GT Logistics uses Reflex WMS Web (SaaS) to manage operations at its Lidl warehouse. The company opted for Reflex on account of its ability to efficiently manage reverse logistics flows (which by nature are complex and unpredictable) and to handle high volumes, and for its support for mechanized systems (crossbelt sorter).
Once incoming items have been unloaded, the pallets are identified and their contents are quantified and qualified. “If the items are in brand-new condition, they can be repackaged and repalletized,” said Boerez. “If they’re slightly damaged, they can be discounted and resold. Items that aren’t fit for resale are removed from the system.” Goods that can be resold, and therefore returned to stock, are directed to the mechanized system provided that they are small and light enough to be handled by the sorter. Larger or heavier items are dealt with manually by operators. Bulk items are repackaged in boxes or other formats that are identical to the original packaging. “Reflex calculates everything automatically, ensuring that products suitable for repackaging are sent to the correct storage locations,” added Boerez. Once the items have been returned to stock, they are then shipped to stores as and when orders come in.
Intuitive interfaces and a short learning curve
When GT Logistics deployed Reflex WMS Web, it took the opportunity to review some of its process and introduce touchscreen interfaces as a way to boost productivity. “Thanks to its intuitive design, Reflex WMS Web has significantly shortened the training and onboarding process for new and temporary staff – they’re now fully operational within 48 hours, compared with at least a week previously,” said Boerez.
Deconsolidating special-offer storage, and introducing new procedures and tracking
GT Logistics has several projects in the pipeline over the coming months, including the co-development of a new feature to handle the deconsolidation of special-offer storage by price and item category. The company also plans to rework its procedures as it looks to add a new activity, and to deploy E-Dentic’s video tracking system and iBeacon technology for real-time loading control.