Company: Zebra TechnologiesCustomer: Helèn RörSubmitted by: Strategic Alliance InternationalHelèns Rör has re-engineered its labelling printing process to implement a complete self designed bar coded system. Using Zebra’s BAR-ONE® for R/3® software, supplied by Strålfors, Helèns Rör package and tag all goods using colour coded self-designed bar code labels.
The colours are representative of the products’ distribution route and destination to ensure successful management and delivery of all merchandise. This system minimises the chances of any errors occurring, thus equalising a more efficient service and increasing customer satisfaction.
Manufacturing and distribution of steel
Helèns Rör is a well established, Swedish based company with a presence throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic States. It is the market leader for supplying steel tubing for use in all manner of industrial solutions from car exhausts to utilisation in the shipyard industry. Helèns Rör is one of the first companies in Sweden to implement a complete labelling process from SAP R/3® by utilising the latest BAR-ONE® for R/3® software from Zebra Technologies.Helèns Rör’s central warehouse is located in Halmstad, Sweden.
This is Helèns Rör’s main supplier of steel tubing, stocking the largest and most comprehensive range of tubing from welded precision steel tubes to carbon hollow bars. Helèns Rör handles more than 80,000 tons of tubes a year.The steel is manufactured at a separate location and then shipped to Helèns Rör warehouses, where tubing is produced according to customer’s specific instructions. Tubing can vary in diameter from 8mm to 700mm and from 10mm up to 14000mm in length, and Helèns Rör can be asked to perform such tasks as washing or inserting holes into the tubes after they are measured and cut. After the cutting is completed, the tubes are packaged together in bundles and pallets and then the goods are bar coded and labelled for their final destination.
Life before bar codes
Life at Helèns Rör used to be very different.
Goods were labelled using marker pens, which was a very time consuming task as it involved each employee taking an hour out of every shift to simply write product information onto each label which would then be transferred onto every item. Occasionally the manual system would lead to problems with illegible labels or incorrect labelling, all of which slowed down the entire process of preparing and distributing goods. Helèns Rör, therefore, needed a more fast and efficient method to packaging and labelling their merchandise. Instead of the monotonous task of re-writing the same information onto individual labels, Helèns Rör demanded a system whereby warehouse staff can have instant access to a specific label format, download the image and print them off in reams.Helèns Rör turned to Strålfors, the market leader for computer and printing accessories, who recommended BAR-ONE® for R/3® software. Zebra’s BAR-ONE was the ideal choice because it facilitates a link to the SAP Enterprise Resource planning (ERP) system.
This means all labels are designed graphically at the central system in Halmstad and uploaded via an icon onto Helèns Rör’s SAP R/3® system and is then seamlessly available from any Helèns Rör warehouse.Staff at Helèns Rör have found it to be a very ‘user friendly’ system. Any possible mistakes or modifications made during the formatting process of the label can be quickly adjusted as the graphical interface incorporated into the program allows such changes to be carried out without the need for additional software to print the labels. This has made the system very adaptable for when routes are changed or when a customer requires alternative products to an order.The labels are printed using Zebra’s industrial strength 105Se and hand held PT400 printers. This enables Helèns Rör to produce barcode labels that also contain readable information relevant to the storage location of the tube and on the point of delivery.
Having such details so readily accessible to the carrier ensures each product is delivered to the correct customer. The labels are also robust and hard wearing which makes them resilient, to any adverse weather conditions and means they can be attached to the outside of a bundle of tubes. They are also strong enough to withstand any rugged conditions usually encountered on a long transportation.”We consulted with Strålfors, and after careful consideration, and after reviewing all possibilities, we decided that Zebra Technologies BAR-ONE® for R/3® software was the ideal solution to replace our time-consuming labelling system within the warehouse,” said Daniel Jansson, quality manager of Helèns Rör. “Since implementing BAR-ONE® for R/3® , label design and modification has become a much quicker and less complex task. It has saved us literally weeks of time spent packaging and preparing goods, and has reduced the chances of errors occurring.
Using BAR-ONE® for R/3® we can maximise the use of our ERP system and operate a much faster and more efficient distribution network.”
Role of colour coded Labels
Supplying to a number of different locations is a complicated process. Inventory could easily be sent to an incorrect location by mistake. Helèns Rör has foreseen this problem by implementing a colour coded label design system using Zebra’s 105Se and PT400 printers. With the introduction of pre-coloured bar code labels, the tubes are tagged according to the specific distribution route. Each label has a section with seven different colours each corresponding to a particular delivery route.
For example, blue would be the colour indicating a delivery to North Sweden. The bar code label is printed and six of the seven colours are covered to leave the blue box exposed. This way the forklift driver and the carrier can identify straight away by the colour of the label on the merchandise if it has been included into the wrong batch for delivery.In the main warehouse, a chart is issued to all employees identifying which coloured label corresponds to which delivery route. This chart is also issued to the carrier to ensure that the process is continued throughout the delivery.
With the assistance of the chart the chances of any mistakes occurring even during the delivery process, becomes a thing of the past.Generally each distributor has their own area of delivery, so the colours used are often the same on each delivery made, therefore further reducing the risk of confusion. The bar coded labels also enable the customer to scan and automatically record the data for their own use.”At Zebra Technologies we strive to be the best for quality ensuring that our customers receive the most out of our products,” said Ken Moir, alliance marketingmanager for Zebra Technologies. “Helèns Rör is receiving the absolute maximum potential from the BAR-ONE® for R/3® software, and I am delighted that Helèns Rör is able to utilise this system into its core business process. The beauty of the BAR-ONE® for R/3® software is that it is a very flexible system for bar code labelling.
It is simple to use and requires very little training, making it very popular for an instant solution from any previous, less effective labelling system. The software is compatible with all Zebra printers, and therefore Helèns Rör now has a complete efficient bar code labelling package.”The main warehouse has a total of six printers, a combination of the Zebra 105Se printer and the Zebra PT400. Per Daleby of Strålfors explains, “We advised Helèns Rör to choose the 105Se printer because of its industrial strength and size. Helèns Rör also chose the PT400 printers because of their wireless capabilities. Our objective at Strålfors is to offer our expertise in advising customers on what we feel would be the best solution for their needs.
In this instance the PT400 was an ideal choice due to their mobility advantages as they are mainly used on the forklift trucks which means that the staff can move around the warehouse floor, creating greater flexibility when labelling items. Both printers are able to withstand the harsh environment normally encountered in an active warehouse, and are compact enough to be stored in a small area within the warehouse. With these printers, combined with the BAR-ONE® for R/3® software, we are confident that Helèns Rörs new system is guaranteed to be a success.”
Improved efficiency for customer service
By the use of a combination of bar code solutions, Helèns Rör is able to offer a more efficient delivery service to its customers. Helèns Rör are being particularly focused in this area by offering the customers an opportunity to give an opinion on what they think of the new efficient service. The efficiency begins with the use of the latest software BAR-ONE® for R/3®, which is at the centre of the designing process of the label, in this instance Helèns Rör has this facilitated in its main warehouse based in Sweden.
All information created by the BAR-ONE® for R/3® software is instantly accessible to all the warehouses, whereby all the necessary labels can be produced. Vast improvements have been noticed at Helèns Rör and among its customers on the advanced delivery service that is now offers since installation of the new label design system. It has proved to be well organised and a very successful venture.