University Project "Transparent Inbound Processes" with FH Wildau

by Naz Schmidt - 21 Feb 2014

Back in September 2013, we had already announced on our company blog blog.zalando.de we would be welcoming a group of Bachelor students from the TH Wildau to take part in a joint project, organized in cooperation with Zalando/TH Wildau.

So here they were! From beginning of October 2013 until mid of January 2014 Olga, Sabrina, Josephine, Aleksandra und Anne have successfully analyzed our logistic inbound processes. They identified potential issue areas and provided valuable solutions to improve transparency within these processes. All of this was being conducted under supervision of Zalando’s Process Management Team, Logistic´s Process Engineering Team and Category Management Team.

Needless to say, visiting one of our warehouses, Brieselang, was an obligatory part of the whole experience: seeing our warehouse processes in real life helped these students understand, analyze and thoroughly model our process chains by the means of BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation). BPMN is a standard and maintaned by Object Management Group (OMG) and can be seen as a common language between business and IT which is used for specifying business processes in a graphical way.

Multiple solutions to improve more transparent Inbound processes have been compiled, especially in the area of unpacking. All solutions have been based on data exploration (automatic, manual), data transfer (optical, electronical) and data storage (RFID, barcodes, camera-based solutions). The solutions were compared with each other by the help of a cost benefit analysis and strictly defined criterias including, among others, error rate, flexibility, implementation costs.

The student consultant’s final proposal for a feasible and useful solution has been a strategy based on scanning barcodes on pallets on reception of goods through handhelds. At the same time, some Zalando engineers worked on a similar question. Interestingly, they suggested the same approach which stresses the high quality of the students’ work.

After a very successful final presentation of the project’s outcome in January 2014, three of these students have decided to apply for an internship and a subsequent possibility to write their required bachelor thesis at Zalando. Currently, we are investigating and actively searching for target projects for these motivated students.

After this success, we can clearly express that this experience has been more than positive for both sides.

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