Flextronics, The Netherlands Flextronics guarantees logistical efficiency and

Flextronics, The Netherlands Flextronics guarantees logistical efficiency and
Flextronics, The Netherlands
Case study
Flextronics guarantees logistical efficiency and
reliable goods management using Zebra® bar code
Flextronics specialises in end-to-end supply chain services, covering every aspect of the logistics process
involving both assembling and transporting products for OEM customers. The company operates in over 30
countries and has its Dutch office in Venray, the Netherlands. Its distribution centre, which covers a total area
of 200,000 m², is among the largest centres in Europe with production operating on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a
week (24x7) basis. Every day approximately 300 trucks loaded with products leave the warehouse to make
deliveries across the EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) region. Flextronics has already been using
different types of Zebra® thermal label printers in order to optimise the various processes required to
ensure that products can be delivered on time.
The Challenge
Goods traceability and identification are vitally important elements in the supply
chain. The most practical and reliable technology that can be used in this area
is the bar code. Whether it involves the traceability of an individual product
within the logistics process or transporting pallets, if the item comes with a bar
code, all the necessary information is directly available. The data can be easily
read using a bar code scanner which saves a great deal of time and avoids
“We want to offer our customers a reliable service. This means that we need to
have our logistics process in order,” says Johan Berghs, ICT Manager at
Flextronics. “For us to save time and money, it is important that goods are easy
to trace. As we mainly transport expensive items, the security aspect is also
extremely important. Every year we process on average some 819,000 pallets.
If these items didn’t have barcodes we would be considerably less productive.”
Since Flextronics works for a number of different customers, there are also
different requirements specified for the labels being used. For instance, if
different measurements are used, the quantity information on the label may
vary for each customer. Depending on the type of transport being used, there
will be different requirements specified for the labels’ durability. This means
that the printers must be multi-functional to be able to meet these
“Our distribution centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” continues
Berghs. “The printers must be able to endure this intense heavy work load and
need minimal maintenance. Of course, you cannot compare these at all with
the printers used in an office environment.”
Solution Technology
Zebra® Z Series®
mid-range printers
Zebra ® Xi™ series
Zebra® PAX™ series
print engines
The Solution
Flextronics uses more than 200 Zebra® printers. Different printer models are
used, depending on the specific printing requirement. The printers used vary
from mid-range Z Series® printers, which are ideal for printing labels for item
tracking, to the robust high-performance Xi™ series, which is used in business
critical 24x7 environments. In addition, Flextronics also uses PAX™ series
print engines for automatically applying labels, which speeds up internal
The distribution centre is divided into various units, each one being equipped
with its own label printers. All the printers are connected to the warehouse
management system (WMS) which is used worldwide by Flextronics. The
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system runs on BAAN. The WMS interface
is also connected to SAP, as this software is used by the majority of
customers. The implementation of the WMS system and integration with the
printers was carried out
by Flextronics’ Zebra channel partner.
“This system allows us to easily design the bar code labels ourselves, tailored
to the customer’s specific wishes,” says Berghs. “The labels are then printed
out by our staff at our distribution centre and stuck
on the product or pallet.
We use Motorola scanners to read the barcodes and monitor the goods
management process, providing the perfect combination. It is a stable system,
which is important for our productivity.”
Flextronics uses different types of labels, the most commonly used of which
are used for identifying boxes. There are also labels printed for item tracking
and transporting pallets. Inbound labels are also used to a limited extent for
internal storage. This shows that barcodes are an essential component in the
whole logistics process.
The Benefits
Johan Berghs explains why products and pallets need to be labelled: “The
most important reason is to make the logistics processes more efficient. We
are often working under great time pressure. It is vital then that we don’t make
any mistakes or waste time.”
User-friendliness is a key factor as to why Flextronics has opted for Zebra®
printers. Staff must be able to tear off labels easily so that production is not
delayed unnecessarily. It is also important that they can quickly change the roll
when labels run out. As Flextronics prints a lot of labels, the cost aspect is
“Zebra printers are reliable and robust, which means that their maintenance
costs are also low,” continues Berghs. “Industrial environments impose huge
demands on printers. They must be able to operate properly in dusty
environments and keep going almost non-stop. Given that we have been
happy with our printers’ performance for more than seven years already, this
shows that we are confident about the return on investment (ROI).”
(03/2011) ©2010 ZIH Corp. All rights reserved.
“We have been using Zebra
printers almost exclusively for
seven years and we are very
pleased with their
Johan Berghs,
ICT Manager,
Flextronics, The Netherlands
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