Centrado progresses from paper to precision with Körber WMS.

centrado case study

Centrado Trading Ltd. provides picture framing supplies to the trade. Founded in 2012 from the merger of two companies, but with history going back to 1992, it has since grown rapidly to become the largest framing materials supplier in the UK.

Centrado makes 1,500 deliveries a week, managing its own fleet to deliver mouldings, glazing, mountboards, backings and accessories to picture framing shops and galleries across the UK. It also sells in selected European countries, through a subsidiary company in Germany.

In 2022, Centrado moved to a larger warehouse, in Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire. The new 100,000 ft2 warehouse would more efficiently handle its 2,900 products – worth some £3.9m – and supply its depots in Armagh, Glasgow and Germany.

The previous warehouse had run manually, using paper systems. Mark Marsh, Head of Technology for Centrado, says: “Our new warehouse was too large to run using our previous paper-based systems. We had reached the point where we needed to find the right WMS solution.”

Paper-based limitations hinder Centrado’s efficiency.

One of the challenges for Centrado of running a paper-based system was that it was causing some repetitive manual work. For example, Centrado sells a large range of timber products. These are picture frame mouldings, which are ordered by length. But, being a natural product, they don’t come in set sizes. Mark explains: “If a customer orders three metres, we might ship them three point one. But capturing the difference between the picked quantity and the ordered quantity was always a manual process. The picker would write down the details, which were then added back into our system afterwards.”

James Middleton, Finance Director for Centrado adds that another issue with the paper-based system was maintaining stock accuracy. He says: “It meant we didn’t have a good way of maintaining multiple locations. Managing each SKU on paper was very difficult.”

James continues: “Allocation of work was also difficult. We would print picklists that needed to be picked by different people in different zones. The paper-based system meant literally passing batches of paper pick lists from one zone to another – and that was laborious.”

Mark adds that there was also a resource planning issue. He says, “When we had, say, a thousand orders to go out in a shift, we had no way of knowing if that was going to be possible as we didn’t have any picks-per-hour data or operator level intelligence.”

Stock accuracy and resourcing challenges like this can risk that customers would not receive their orders. James confirms that Centrado would never jeopardise customer satisfaction. So, while the customer would always still receive their order, the lack of resource planning did sometimes mean that the company had to pay overtime to fulfil the day’s orders.

These challenges were hindering Centrado’s ability to meet its growth targets. The inefficiencies inherent in the paper-based system were draining resources and also constraining the company’s flexibility, hindering its potential for expansion.

A low-risk, high-flexibility solution.

In search of a robust solution to these challenges, the Centrado team embarked on the process of identifying the right WMS to replace its paper-based system. The chosen system needed to streamline the company’s warehousing operations and also facilitate its growth.

After evaluating the options, the choice became clear. Mark Marsh says: “We chose Körber WMS as it is a system that we could configure, rather than customise. It’s very flexible in terms of how you set it up. So, from that perspective, it does the job we want it to do without needing a whole load of customisations – which makes it a lower risk.” Körber WMS also integrates seamlessly with Centrado’s existing ERP system, SAP Business One.

James describes the implementation that Balloon has implemented for Centrado as “relatively vanilla”. However, a few customisations were necessary – to ensure that the products that come in various non-standardised sizes could properly be recognised, for example.

Centrado also offers special production services for customers buying its products. Customers can have mouldings mitre-cut or choose to have other products like backing board and glass cut to size. Körber WMS is able to handle these services without any customisations.

Balloon has also configured some Power BI reports for Centrado, which will provide essential supply chain insights for the company. This enables the team to pull data from various sources, such as financial information from the ERP and sales and stock data from the WMS. This can then be transformed into visualisations that deliver useful insights.

Körber WMS enhances control and efficiency.

Centrado’s new Körber WMS solution, which went live in November 2022, has marked a turning point for the company’s warehousing. By addressing the challenges inherent in the previous paper-based system, it has improved efficiency, delivery performance and control over the business during busy periods.

Centrado has now experienced its first full peak trading period using the WMS. Mark says it was “more controlled” than previously. He says, “Everybody had access to the right information at the right time and it was smoother, even though we were handling more volume.” He adds that there has also been a reduction in picking errors and general warehouse errors.

Other metrics have improved too. Mark confirms, “We track delivered in full on time and that has been improving steadily for the last year.” Plus, since Centrado tends to dispatch using its own vehicles, the WMS now easily handles the loading process. A separate transport management system calculates the routes and, through an interface with the WMS, automatically sends them to the warehouse system.

Centrado has also benefited from a reduction in picking errors. Mark says, “We’ve achieved a 40% improvement in our picking accuracy, which is a significant change.” And with access to crucial data on picks-per-hour, managers are now able to optimise and fine-tune resource allocation. This has reduced the need for overtime payments during periods of high demand.

Körber WMS has resolved the issues around capturing the differences between ordered and picked quantities for the variable timber products. This has brought savings in admin time, thanks to not having to manually capture and then reinput these size differences. Mark explains, “Capturing that on the gun as we go has saved us one person in the office.”

Using Körber WMS has allowed Centrado to better manage and track stock across its multiple locations, reducing errors. James explains, “Another direct result of the WMS has been the reduction in stock write-offs.” He continues: “Stock was getting lost or being disposed of without being recorded. And there were other inaccuracies in the warehouse that weren’t being picked up on or managed because they weren’t visible. Now, though, we are able to see it much more and control it much more.”

Framing a future vision of enhanced efficiency and growth.

As Centrado embraces a new level of operational efficiency and accuracy afforded by the successful integration of Körber WMS, the company is now perfectly positioned to confidently pursue its growth targets.

Looking ahead, one of the key focuses will be the continued enhancement of the reporting capabilities through Power BI analytics. By using these advanced insights, Centrado aims to deepen its understanding of operational dynamics. This will help drive further efficiency improvements, as well as support its decision-making processes.

Growth remains at the forefront of Centrado’s strategic agenda, with particular emphasis on expanding its operations in Germany while continuing to strengthen its market position in the UK.

Ultimately, Centrado will also extend the benefits of the Körber WMS to its non-managed satellite depots in Armagh and Glasgow. This will allow Centrado to unify its operational practices across all locations and will enhance stock visibility and control.

With this solid foundation of operational efficiency and a clear vision for the future, Centrado is well-equipped to meet its ambitions.