16. March 2022

Interview with Marián Šarišský

Marián Šarišský currently works as an Operations and Logistics manager in Dedoles and his main responsibility is Intralogistics system and solution design. His background consists of 20 years of experience within logistics of manufacturing warehouses, FMCG food supply chains, last mile logistics, e-commerce and as a consultant/advisor for external/internal logistics and Industry 4.0.
When setting up new warehouses, as well as each and every small process, he combines technical knowledge with LEAN methodologies and completes it with today’s best possible technologies. From first data collection and analysis, through designs and dynamic simulations, to successful implementation, he gathers the best possible team together to make it happen.

1. What is the job of the Operations and Logistics Manager in a successful company like Dedoles?
It is about designing the whole complex solution for the warehouse as well as the processes in it. It is not possible to just copy a warehouse as the default template and set it with universal parameters. It is necessary to know the company in detail, its specifics, complex data, internal and external influences. This depends mainly on details such as the number of active SKUs, the size and volume of the goods, the number of pieces in the package, the number of pieces in the box, and the number on the pallet. The reliability of the supplier directly determines the process of income control. And the quantities purchased, in turn, the way they are stored in the warehouse. The number of pieces of goods in the box and the capacity of picking positions directly affect how do we want to spread the stock around the warehouse, and how to pick it. Turnover, volume, and type of goods, in turn, determine the type of storage and picking positions. Of course, it is necessary to determine the most appropriate way for a particular company so as not to create unwanted losses. Whenever the same solution is used for very different products or companies, it automatically creates a loss. Therefore, it must be a tailor-made solution for the company, even with regard to future developments, which is one of the most important factors. The design of the solution consists of the analysis of data and all available impacts. Therefore, the most important is the correct and accurate data, including prediction. Of course, the appropriate choice of automation also derives from the above, which is the second part of the work. Following the preparation of the solution, it is necessary to manage the warehouse and the processes in it, and therefore the third part of the work is the correct design of the warehouse management system and its algorithms.

2. What was the impetus for warehouse automation, and how did you deal with it in Dedoles?
Dedoles has undergone tremendous change in recent years. Three years ago, we sent our customers about 3,000 orders a day, in 2021 we were already preparing capacity for 60,000 orders, so an intelligently managed warehouse in a larger space was a necessity for us. As in other companies, which are growing rapidly, our product portfolio has considerably expanded, and the dimensions and quantities of products have changed. This required larger warehouses, with which the distances of intralogistics warehousing operations also increased proportionally. This could lead to increased costs. Therefore, we had to change the whole concept of storage and picking orders.
We needed to effectively check and sort the goods upon receipt so that they could be subsequently stored in a way that made it possible to select and supplement the so-called picking zone (i.e. the part of the warehouse where goods ordered by customers are collected and assembled into an order for packaging). It was supposed to be 2.5 times bigger than in the previous warehouse, so we needed to cover longer distances faster and more economically – and this is only possible with the help of the most modern technologies. Some of them only needed to be chosen correctly, others were designed-to-measure. All this would not be possible without sophisticated tailor-made work and machine control.

3. What did the investment in your new warehouse look like?
Investment in technology must first and foremost make economic sense and a quick return. The right solution design, the choice of the right technology and, last but not least, the selection of a reliable supplier is important. Investments in new premises with an area of more than 15,000 m2 were divided into three categories.
1.       The so-called necessary investments are linked to the overall space and processes in relation to the planned performance of the warehouse and the size of future stocks. This was 65% of the investment, of which 55% was associated only with the growing size of stocks (pallet racks, pallets and trucks) and 45% with an increase in operations related to future developments.
2.       Technological investments made up 30% and included the development of the control system, automation and innovation.
3.       Finally, 5% of the investments were associated with continuous improvement of working conditions.

4. What indicators do you consider most important for the proper functioning of the warehouse in e-commerce?
Certainly, the most important thing is to be able to correctly predict future sales of goods. If we were looking only at current sales, then until we have time to react to, let’s say, Valentine’s Day, it will be already over. Changing the distribution of goods can bring up to a 25% increase in intralogistics performance. Therefore, it is important to know future sales well and have the goods correctly positioned. It is in this where the predictions of e-commerce warehouses differ from manufacturing and automotive warehouses the most. Fluctuations in e-commerce are incomparably greater.
Of course, the second strongest factor in an e-commerce warehouse is the overall required warehouse performance. The solution must be based on the highest performance needed in the period before Christmas and with regard to the following years. However, for the rest of the year, this required performance fluctuates considerably and can fall to a quarter. Therefore, it is necessary to respond correctly to this new need by balancing and utilising all resources. In Dedoles, we have already dynamically moved resources through the control system in the past, and this new warehouse will not be any different.
5. What does an automated e-shop warehouse look like?
In order to be able to deliver the products to our customers as soon as possible, we introduced various improvements in logistics and sophisticated human labour management already in 2020. In the warehouse we use, for example, inventory mirroring, cluster picking and dynamic slotting. The mirroring is that the best-selling items are not only stored in one place, but in several zones. At the same time, dynamic slotting helps determine where the optimal place to store a particular item is. The distribution of stock items is not static but varies according to the season, the development of orders, and their items. Based on the turnover analysis, the system calculates where it is most efficient to place a specific product.
Finally, the cluster picking method, which groups orders with the same priority and individual items stored close to each other, helps to make order picking more efficient. As a result, the warehouse workers do not have to move around the entire warehouse and the types of goods that are most often found together in orders are “at hand”. Due to their distribution in the warehouse, related items are combined into a task for one operator – a warehouse worker. In this way, a single worker manages to process several orders at once. The intelligent system prepares lists for several employees at the same time, manages them, and navigates them in the warehouse via a real-time hand-held scanning device.
In Dedoles, we use digital twin technology, which is one of the biggest trends of the fourth industrial revolution and intelligent logistics. In practice, it looks like the system creates a virtual copy of the entire warehouse, thanks to which each warehouse position, as well as the warehouse zone, has its own digital twin – its own autonomous information agent (software micro-application). Such digital warehouse twin positions help to prepare stocktaking plans, as they record exactly what types of items and in what numbers are in stock, and how customer bookings are changed, which is used when planning stock picking in real-time. In addition, the digital twins monitor the number of available stocks, the volume capacity of each position, the warehouse zones, and the entire warehouse within the warehouse. These are variable parameters which are then considered during storage. So, at any moment we see the exact number of available stock and at the same time the consumption of each product, which allows us to make purchases more efficiently.

Dedoles is a Slovak company that sells original clothing. Today, it has millions of sales and operates in 21 European countries. As part of its expansion, it moved to new warehouse and logistics premises last year and uses state-of-the-art technology in a 1.5-hectare warehouse. Marián Šarišský, Operations and Logistics Manager in Dedoles, talked about the importance of warehouse and logistics processes in a successful and expanding company.