Operating on slim margins is nothing new for order fulfillment operations, but for an organization that supports school fundraising initiatives, every dollar saved is a dollar that gives back. SRSI recently completed a WMS system upgrade and order processing systems and equipment integration for a campaign coordination business. The result enabled them to meet growing demand and ensures that the kids get every penny back that they work so hard to raise. Here’s their story.
Since 2018, the customer has experienced an uptick in demand. They recognized the need to improve order-picking productivity to enable them to meet higher ship volumes. They also wanted to achieve faster order turnaround to satisfy customer expectations and support the students individual fundraising campaign efforts.
A Step in the Right Direction
To meet desired output and efficiency goals, a previously owned, pick-to-light (PTL) auto-fulfillment technology and conveyor system was purchased. Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, the desire to get things up and running quickly ran counter to the training time necessary to optimize the effectiveness of the new technology. The warehouse team lacked a clear understanding of the system operations and thus encountered errors, light delays, and ultimately a process slowdown. In addition, the system was reporting weight scale delays and kick offs were extremely high at the start. Thankfully, the company that sold the PTL system was working with SRSI, so it made a sense to bring the SRSI team in to help properly integrate the system and train the team.
The SRSI team faced several challenges to complete this project. The purchased PTL and conveyor system was heavily integrated with a less-sophisticated WMS solution than was needed. Since the older WMS did not have the required functionality, a customized warehouse control software needed to be developed and integrated to satisfy customer expectations.
Three-Fold SRSI Solution:
- New Warehouse Control (WCS)
- New dedicated server for the PTL
- Employee training
SRSI integrated and deployed a WCS that included development of cartonization algorithms customized to support inventory SKUs and prize rules.
The WCS was programmed to control the warehouse sub-systems such as the PTL and automated conveyors to optimize the full scope of the picking operation.
Each SKU location was equipped with an alphanumeric display and button which ties back to the WCS to identify efficient pick routes. Pickers quickly secure each item and confirm the picks by pressing a button. The new PTL system also maximizes putting and sorting functions.
In addition, a new server for the PTL system was purchased to help separate it from other systems within the warehouse.
The SRSI team spent a significant amount of time training the warehouse team on system function and operation. Several on-site visits, phone calls and screen-share opportunities allowed the team to understand the workings of the automated system and be sufficiently equipped to operate it and resolve system difficulties that may arise.
The customer saw improvement in operations as early as mid-Fall 2018 and with a small change in system connections in Spring 2019 they were able to complete the majority of order fulfillment on the PTL system. Their intent is to complete 90% of future order processing using the new system.
“Filling the void left by the removal of the previous WMS and managing the integration of the new pick-to-light system is the type of challenge our team answers daily,” notes Chris York, COO SRSI.
“We are very pleased with the results of this project and that we were able to turn around a solution quickly for this great group of folks.”
The SRSI team is staffed with warehouse logistics software experts. In this case, SRSI was able to provide in-depth knowledge of the new WMS and WCS systems operation and configuration as well as projections of how the new configuration would support the customer’s goals. “We supplied a thorough business analysis and projections with the information they supplied. Our experience and expertise provided the client with enough confidence to trust SRSI for this complex integration work,” adds Ben York, CEO SRSI. “These solutions, while challenging, provide tremendous value to our clients and we’re proud to have the capabilities to deliver.”
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