Ahlsell is Sweden’s leading distributor of comprehensive products and services in the plumbing, electricity, tools & machinery, cooling, building, supplies and protective equipment.
They have been undergoing a huge expansion for the past 3 years and invested tens of millions of euros to build a 12 500 m² storage warehouse with 100 000 pallet places and an automated picking system. The new warehouse is now being built and for this new operation they need a suitable and efficient load carrier.
For the last 15 years Ahlsell has purchased foldable plastic boxes and has 7000 units in use. The plastic boxes fulfilled their needs in the internal warehouse, deliveries to stores and bigger contracted end-users. Unfortunately due to the lack of storage space, Ahlsell has been forced to store them outside all year long. Snow and water has to be removed and the units need to be dried of before being put into use again. This operation is both time-consuming and costly.
The boxes are taking a beating and break easily as they are made of plastic. This adds repair and spare part costs to the bill. The plastic boxes have closed walls that make it impossible to see the load. This gives the warehouse and store personnel extra work when planning deliveries as they need to open each box to see the contents.
To make this project a real game changer and find out other needs and ideas we made a thorough analysis in the stores, central warehouses and local DCs. We interviewed employees with different responsibilities, all of which who handled the goods and load carriers. This gave us the answer to the product requirements.
As the next phase Ahlsell has made a trial with around 30 SmartCube® lasting three months to evaluate the fulfillment of the requirements listed during the analysis phase. Features which got the highest score were compatibility with existing fleet, low maintenance costs and easy handling both in warehouse and in the stores.
As Joakim Kvelland, Transport and Logistics Manager at Ahlsell says: “The test results exceeded all our hopes. Here at our central warehouse we were quite positive towards the new load carriers as they will save us a lot of time in our operations. Being able to see the content of each SmartCube® and spot mistakes at an earlier stage is also a big advantage. But the real jackpot came when we got the feedback from the stores that they really loved the SmartCube® as they could easily use it inside the stores as a display unit thanks to the open door feature. With the plastic boxes the stores had to unload each unit to know the contents and then place the goods on a pallet or a shelf in the store – losing a lot of time”.
Ahlsell has now ordered the first batch of SmartCube® foldable cages and intend to replace all the plastic boxes they have in use today.
They have also approved K. Hartwall as a partner for product development which is the best situation for continuing to develop the product according to the customer current and future needs.