Woonhaven Antwerpen achieves faster and more efficient stock management thanks to customised software

Social housing association

Woonhaven Antwerpen is a social housing association which rents and sells social housing. It provides those renting with a good quality and affordable home with a focus on sustainability and architecture. The association has 18,000 rental homes, 97% of which are flats. These homes are spread across the districts of Antwerp (with the exception of Ekeren), Mortsel and Edegem. The number of bedrooms varies from none (studio) to 5. Woonhaven Antwerpen is also responsible for maintaining and renovating the flats.

Optimising stock management

In its technical warehouse the association keeps a stock of around 8,000 articles, all of which are necessary for daily maintenance. Some of the replacement parts are not located in the central warehouse, but in one of the 75 mobile warehouses, vans which the maintenance team use to go out into the field. Until recently there was only an inventory of the stock in the central warehouse. As soon as an item was removed from that warehouse and loaded into a van it was only possible to track its location using a paper picking document. In principle the ERP system used by Woonhaven Antwerpen did allow an inventory to be made of the 75 mobile warehouses, but in reality this was far too much work. This meant that items were difficult to track down for quite some time.

That’s why Woonhaven Antwerpen went out looking for a solution to make it possible to identify the location using handheld scanners. “We looked into what was available on the market and we compared the solutions that were on offer”, says Jan Pieters, Head of ICT and information management at Woonhaven Antwerpen. “The solution presented by PHI DATA was the winner: it provided the best ratio between price and quality.”

PHI DATA has a standard package called IDStock to optimise stock management when articles are spread across different locations. However, since the ERP system used by Woonhaven Antwerpen already knows where each item can be found they created a tailor-made solution instead. “PHI DATA designed special software for us to allow Honeywell scanners to communicate with our ERP system using web services. Our warehouse managers do not need to use special applications, as the update simply takes place using the barcodes.”

The solution allows the transfer of articles between different warehouses to be registered. The picking document then states the correct location. The solution means that the picking document appears on the screen of the handheld scanner rather than on paper. Items that are scanned and picked are automatically checked out. Incoming materials are also automatically registered in the system.

This also means that stock counting is much quicker. Where in the past the warehouse had to close for two days for stock counting and stock was re-entered into the ERP system using Excel files, this solution now allows a system of cycle-counting in the warehouse. That means that zones are quickly scanned all year round, allowing the warehouse to remain open. This allows lost and damaged items to be recorded throughout the year.

Positive experience

Woonhaven Antwerpen has been using the solution since the beginning of 2015. “This was not about cost-saving. Our real aim was to gain control of our central warehouse and the stock in our vehicles. That was lacking before. We do notice that in doing so we also save time and money.”

Jan Pieters is really delighted with the service. “We had to postpone implementation of the solution as we were dependent on another supplier for the web service. PHI DATA was really flexible about this delay and quickly planned implementation for another day. The usual bugs and modifications that you always have at the start of this kind of project were solved efficiently. We were already asking for it to be extended after completion of the first set-up: we wanted the transfers that took place using the scanners to be printed on tickets as well. That gave technical staff a shopping list to add to their work sheets. The provision of hardware and software also went very smoothly. As far as we are concerned this was certainly a positive experience and we would like to go further, together with PHI DATA: we would like to be able to scan an item in the warehouse in order to generate a request for it to be restocked. PHI DATA has assured us that this is quite simple and that it will only require a small addition to our existing software.”

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