When a leading provider of ERP software works together with a specialist for wireless LAN and mobile computer hardware, users benefit from solutions that set new standards in times of digitalisation. The trusting partnership between Infor and Circlon | tcg, now spanning over 10 years, has resulted in many successful projects. For example, the Infor Blending ERP system and Circlon | tcg services, as well as Zebra Technologies' hardware, make mobile booking possible during order picking at PUFAS, the leading brand for painters and decorators.
PUFAS Werk, a medium-sized family business based in Hann. Münden, supplies products for painters and decorators. The painter brand PUFAS includes a range of wallpaper adhesives, pastes, fillers, primers, coatings and emulsion paints. Founded in 1928, the company employs just under 150 people and most recently generated annual sales of more than 50 million euros.
Need for production planning and logistics software
The customers of PUFAS products, for example various DIY stores and supermarkets, as well as online retailers, place very special requirements on suppliers. For example, reliable tracking must be guaranteed so as to ensure that the contents of each carrier is always known. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of the customers are listed as suppliers.
PUFAS reached its limits with the production planning system already in use after expanding its production capacity with a new hall. In addition, the company was not using a professional software solution for its logistics processes. Consequently, it was a logical move to merge the production planning and merchandise management as part of the investment in new systems. As such, what started out as a small "Project WMS" (warehouse management system), turned into a comprehensive ERP (enterprise resource planning) project.
Infor Blending for the process industry
PUFAS had already worked successfully with Infor, so it quickly became clear that the "Infor Blending" ERP system would be able to meet the requirements very well. Infor is a global provider of business software for a variety of industries, including the chemicals, paints and coatings process industries, which fits perfectly with the PUFAS business.
Infor's know-how is very important in the introduction and customisation of its standard software. The advantages are the swift and smooth introduction of the new system, which increases acceptance amongst PUFAS employees and makes operation more effective. In addition, Infor, with sales of approximately USD 2.8 billion, is the third largest business software provider alongside SAP and Oracle.
PUFAS was looking to improve its warehousing and shipping processes. The company thus decided to use the Infor Blending version 7.2 ERP solution with its add-on module for mobile booking. As part of the software migration, the existing WLAN was to be reviewed and, if necessary, redesigned, because with mobile booking, the Blending solution and the mobile computers used work together within a wireless network. This currently concerns picking and in the next project phase also inventories.
Complete solution equals software plus hardware plus know-how
To provide mobile end-to-end solutions to customers, Circlon | tcg, as an expert in wireless infrastructure and mobile device management, has been successfully working together with Infor on various projects for more than a decade. Kai Hentschel, Senior Consultant at Infor, says: "Combining our competencies, we can solve demanding and complex projects in the shortest possible time and with great flexibility. Our customers particularly appreciate the good responsiveness and reliability of the experts. So far, more than 20 successful joint projects have proven how well the partnership between Infor and Circlon | tcg works".
Although the WLAN infrastructure at PUFAS was already sound, it was Circlon | tcg's job to see if specific requirements placed on the wireless network by mobile booking were actually met. As a result, the existing WLAN structure was examined in detail. Circlon | tcg has both the know-how and technical solutions to carry out such analyses and to ensure a corresponding WLAN infrastructure.
Denis Kappelhoffer, Senior Sales Manager Production & Fieldservice at Circlon | tcg, describes the key points of the investigations: "We tested the existing wireless infrastructure in a validation survey according to the technical requirements. This does not just relate to network coverage. Also topics such as channel overlaps, the installation of access points and the orientation of the aerials are important factors. Particularly when dealing with an online solution, reasonable roaming behaviour and complete wireless coverage are absolutely necessary. Another important parameter was security in the wireless LAN. All in all, we have set up a WLAN infrastructure that perfectly meets the requirements of a mobile booking solution."
Furthermore, in the PUFAS project, Circlon | tcg was also responsible for the provision of the mobile computers. As recommended by Circlon | tcg, PUFAS opted to deploy several dozen Zebra MC92N0 mobile computers running the Windows CE 7.0 operating system. These are the most robust devices on the market certified for Infor Blending software. A Lorax 1D long range barcode scanner is used to decode barcodes even from long distances up to 12 metres.
Management of mobile computers with SOTI MobiControl
On account of the partnership between SOTI and Zebra Technologies, customers such as PUFAS can immediately deploy the MobiControl enterprise mobility management (EMM) software, one of the world's leading mobile device management solutions. MobiControl manages the Zebra devices at PUFAS from the provision to the use through to the disposal including data deletion. Denis Kappelhoffer explains the role of Circlon | tcg: "We used the MDM solution from SOTI to carry out the complete configuration of the mobile computers and to train the users accordingly at PUFAS."
The SOTI solution offers not only the automatic provision of up-to-date software but also the options for distributing specific security settings, remote maintenance and content monitoring. Authorised persons can access the mobile computers remotely, i.e. Infor and Circlon | tcg employees can also log in remotely, if necessary, in order to troubleshoot and fix bugs. If devices get lost, they can be located and reset. This gives PUFAS full control over the hardware - from the registration through to the end of the device's service life.
Picking very easy and error-free
The mobile devices are connected to Infor Blending via RDP. If the shipping employee launches the "Mobile Booking" app on their mobile computer, an RDP session is started. The employee can then start picking directly from the pick list by scan. The tool has been designed to be very simple and safe for users to operate. For example, they only need to identify the goods during picking by scan. The pick list per storage bin has to be processed item by item and completed at the end. Once the process is complete, the load is then shrink-wrapped immediately. The shipping employee can use the 'Mobile Booking' tool to print the labels directly next to the shrink-wrapping station with the label printer and stick them to the pallet.
PUFAS is delighted with the complete solution from Infor, Circlon | tcg and Zebra. All Blending users can now query the status of inventory and individual orders at any time. In the next project phase, not only will the order picking at PUFAS benefit from mobile booking. It is planned to also realise physical inventories via the mobile computers.
This is what the customer says
Sven Reichhold, Head of IT, PUFAS Werk KG: "For the return and follow-up of our products, it is essential to reliably represent logistical data in our IT. The mobile booking solution we have introduced with Infor Blending is an important element for increasing the quality of our order picking. Ultimately, however, the wireless network tested by Circlon | tcg provides the crucial basis for this new feature of our ERP system."