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E-magazine RFID & Wireless IoT Global Issue 02/2022
TB International

40% efficiency increase in warehouse logistics with UWB+RFID

Warehouse Logistics with RFID and UWB

Teaser

The retail company TB International sells 15 fashion brands. Own stores are not part of the business concept. The fashion brands are sold online. The focus of the processes therefore lies on logistics operations. TB International uses wireless technology to increase the efficiency of all logistics processes by 40 percent. Incoming goods alone are 23 percent more efficient thanks to the use of RFID- and UWB technology.

Johannes Rudenko is a business economist at TB International with expertise in logistics and e-commerce. He explains how the company has completely digitized logistics processes in the warehouse and supply chain. The idea: to map the distribution warehouse as a digital twin.

40 percent efficiency increase with UWB and RFID technology in the supply chain

TB International owns 15 successful streetwear fashion labels. Urban Classics is one of the most famous brands. Other brands include Mister Tee, Flexfit, Merchcode and Rammstein merchandise. In 2021, TB International sold 30 million individual items via online portals. Since 2022, the manufacturer and wholesaler of fashion items has been tagging 500,000 bulk cartons per year from production, thus optimizing inbound logistics.

 

Indoor Localization in Real Time

Inventory Discrepancies and Collisions

TB International operates four warehouse locations in Germany. At the logistics center in Darmstadt/Arheilgen, orders for individual items of clothing are processed automatically with the help of picking robots. In the other warehouses, only individual process steps were digitized via a warehouse management software from SAP by 2020.

Pilot Project

In 2020, Johannes Rudenko, Managing Director Logistics & IT at TB International, automated the whole-carton handling at the largest warehouse in Groß Gerau, Germany, with UHF tags and UWB sensors. Inpixon, a company specializing in real-time indoor localization and process automation, implemented the project with RFID tags on the cartons and sensors on the forklifts.

TB International tested the digital detectability of all incoming goods in a pilot project at its 25,000 square meter warehouse in Groß Gerau.

Reasons for an RTLS Solution

The forklifts ran suboptimal routes in the warehouse, were unevenly utilized, and frequently interfered with one another. Inventory discrepancies resulted from human error. Overall process efficiency was low, yet difficult to improve if conditions remained the same. In addition, personnel costs in the warehouses were high. 300 employees of the company WLL Logistik und Service GmbH were needed for the work processes. Through contact with Inpixon, the idea to make all processes in the warehouses more efficient through real-time localization (RTLS) emerged at the beginning of 2020.

Proof of Concept

Setting up the IT system with Inpixon took 2 months, piloting the concept took another 3 months. A working student accompanied the pilot run in Groß Gerau with research work. RFID tags on all Flexfit brand cartons and sensors on two forklifts yielded sufficient data volumes for the proof of concept. In the subsequent data analysis, it became clear that the automatic capture of full cartons in the incoming goods department was 23 percent more efficient compared to the barcode system previously used.

In the warehouses, 90% of the goods moved are full cartons.

In the warehouses, 90% of the goods moved are full cartons. Only in the logistics center in Darmstadt/Arheilgen are individual items picked.

Facts

  • TB International was founded in 2005 by Tim Becht
  • Online distribution of fashion items
  • 15 fashion labels and 15,000 retailers worldwide
  • 150 employees at the headquarters in Darmstadt and 300 logistics employees
  • Four warehouses with a total of 85,000 m² in Germany
  • 80 forklifts
  • 1.3 million cartons per year
  • 30 million individual items sold (2021)
  • UWB and IT solution from Intranav, an Inpixon company
  • UHF RFID reader from deister electronic
  • UHF RFID tags from Cisper Electronics
TB International warehouse logistics reorganized
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