CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Want to discover more about Rockfarm?  Browse through our success stories to provide you with an inside look of how we made our Clients supply chain vision become reality.  Our business model coupled with our “Cost to Serve” approach aligns our services with your strategic objectives.  As you read through the success stories, you will see examples of the custom solutions we design for each of our clients. Contact us today to design your custom solution with Rockfarm.

We help clients just like you succeed, read more about their stories:

  • Wells World Services chooses Rockfarm to Manage its Supply Chain to Iraq and Afghanistan

    Wells World Services chooses Rockfarm to manage its supply chain for the replenishment of its remote medical clinics. When Wells World Services was chosen to staff clinics in both Iraq and Afghanistan Rockfarm began managing the materials and stock required to buildout Wells World Services’ Clinics in five clinics located throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Challenges facing the startup of clinics included the lack of visibility within the supply chain as well as destination support to coordinate the final delivery leg of the inbound shipments needed to stock and furnish the medical clinics with equipment and supplies. The first task for Rockfarm was to provide shipment visibility from origin to final destination ensuring delivery confirmation at each of the medical clinics.

    Rockfarm began by integrating its supply chain management system to provide Wells World Services visibility for each leg of the shipment lifecycle. Target delivery dates were engineered based upon transport schedules with each of Rockfarm’s service providers. Delivery targets were confirmed by Rockfarm and allowed Wells World Services to coordinate ground crews prior to the arrival of equipment and material in the country. This coordination allowed for each clinic to become operational on time with full medical capabilities.

    Integrated Supply Chain Management:

    • Integrated Web-Based Tracking
    • Shipment Lifecycle Visibility
    • Shipment leg Visibility
    • Mobile App Visibility

    As the Wells World Services supply chain became visible continuous improvement initiatives began to be engineered and initiated between Wells World Services, their Suppliers and Rockfarm. Movement of medical equipment and supplies bypassed the traditional consolidation points for shipping out of the U.S. and were shipped direct to Rockfarm’s Service Providers for direct movement out of the U.S. Rockfarm utilized its optimization tool to select the optimal departure port for consolidation point for each supplier shipment to minimize cost and improve overall transit time. Rockfarm worked closely with its service providers to ensure space and targeted delivery windows were kept intact throughout each shipment leg.

    Shawn Wells, CEO, Wells World Services:

    “Rockfarm has brought us the global visibility required to support our remote outpost medical clinics throughout the world and continue our expansion into the global market place.”

    The routing optimization resulted in lower cost, minimal transit time and less touch points within the U.S. for material and equipment shipping to each of Wells World Services Clinics in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    As Wells World Services continues to support remote medical clinics throughout the globe they will be facing increased challenges to build out and supply their facilities. Rockfarm’s integrated supply chain management system generates the visibility required to manage their supply chain. Coupled with Rockfarm’s account management support and strong service provider partners Wells World Services growth into future global markets will be supported by Rockfarm’s integrated supply chain solutions.

  • Seamless Shipment Process Drives Order Fulfillment Excellence Rockfarm’s Integrated TMS Delivers Process Excellence

    Customer Profile: A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.

    A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. is a major manufacturer of water works valves and fittings, high-pressure gas valves, and residential and commercial water pumping systems. Founded in 1856, A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co. has remained a family-owned company its entire existence. Headquartered in Dubuque, IA, A.Y. McDonald continues its long tradition of manufacturing valves and fittings for the water and gas industries in both residential and commercial sectors. Producing product in three manufacturing sites in the U.S., A.Y. McDonald distributes directly from each plant including a distribution site located in the western U.S. In addition to its manufacturing capacity, A.Y. McDonald also operates its own brass foundry. A.Y. McDonald’s vision is to be the leading producer of water and gas distribution.

    The Customer’s Initiative

    A.Y. McDonald’s shipment process was housed within their ERP as a shipment execution module. The absence of dynamic routing capability prohibited additional complexity within the carrier solution resulting in lost rate value. The challenge, drive a complex carrier solution model across all shipping locations while improving the shipment execution workflow within their pack bench process. This challenge included cross-modal execution within parcel, LTL and Truckload. Improving the work bench process was the critical component as A.Y. McDonald re-viewed potential options within their existing ERP, software modules and third party.

    The Rockfarm Solution

    The challenge was answered with A.Y. McDonald’s chosen Logistics Service Provider, Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions. Rockfarm immediately began supporting the A.Y. McDonald project team and drove the project management of the overall initiative. Onsite due diligence led to “present state” mapping which produced the go forward “vision state.” Enablement of the Rockfarm integrated TMS gave A.Y. McDonald the capacity to add additional carrier providers to their supply chain network and begin routing optimization across their plants and distribution sites. Improved work flow processes for the pack bench included elimination of “end of day” manifesting for small package, implementation of dynamic LTL routing and auto tender processes for the A.Y. McDonald carrier providers. The result of A.Y. McDonald’s initiative was an overall reduction of 11% in direct freight expense, improved workflow within their pack.

    “Rockfarm’s Integrated TMS enabled us to optimize our shipment process within our pack bench workflow reducing resources and driving automated routing within our carrier solution resulting in 11% savings in our supply chain.” Brad Olberding, Director of Production Planning & Logistics, A.Y. McDonald Mfg. Co.

    “The challenge, drive a complex carrier solution model across all shipping locations while improving the shipment execution.”

  • Order Lifecycle Visibility Drives Sales Growth

    Customer Profile

    Klauer Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer of sheet metal building products for residential, agricultural and commercial building construction. Klauer is a family-owned company that has been a trusted leader in the sheet metal building products industry since its inception 145 years ago in Dubuque, IA. Today, Klauer manufactures a wide range of products including residential steel siding, soffit, and rainwear as well as flashing and roof edge products to a customer base ex-tending throughout the United States. In addition, Klauer provides metal roofing and

    Rockfarm’s Integrated TMS Delivers Increased Planning Visibility

    The Customer’s Initiative

    Increasing competitive pressure in the marketplace placed a heavy emphasis on Klauer Manufacturing to reduce manufacturing lead times and communicate accurate delivery dates to their customers. Reducing lead time became the number one objective to recapture lost business and grow their market share. The lack of visibility within the production cycle of when an order would be ready for shipping prompted senior leadership to take a holistic approach to the order lifecycle. In doing so a system to assist in driving visibility of the order became apparent to better understand choke points within the order process and enabling shipment routing optimization.

    The Rockfarm Solution

    As Klauer Manufacturing’s chosen Logistics Service Provider, Rockfarm enabled their integrated TMS to provide order lifecycle visibility from creation with Customer Service through to final delivery to the customer. In doing so, key time stamps were identified and recorded within the process to include order receipt, planning, scheduling, production, packaging, staging and shipping. Within each stage of the order life cycle visibility was engineered and reported in real time allowing for measurement against projected delivery times to the customer. By providing organizational visibility Klauer Manufacturing was able to address challenges in meeting customer commitments resulting in a significant decrease in their order lifecycle.

    The added benefit of the TMS Integration with the order lifecycle was the extended planning windows due to order visibility. This allowed for deeper route optimization utilizing Klauer’s company

    “Rockfarm’s Integrated TMS enabled us to reduce our delivery times to our customers resulting in improved customer service and increased sales.”

  • Control Tower Execution: Outbound Optimization ~ Inbound Visibility

    Control Tower

    The Rockfarm Control Tower is a central point of control that enables client visibility and optimization of their supply chain activity for both inbound and outbound shipments. Organized as a separate team within our Solutions group the Control Tower manages and executes shipments optimizing the mode of transport and carrier availability within specific lanes.

    Maximizing Visibility and Process Efficiency Through the Rockfarm Control Tower

    Executing the Supply Chain

    Control Tower Execution begins with detailed shipment information that is gathered from the vendor or shipper and confirmed against our client’s requirements. Shipment information is entered into the Rockfarm Vendor Managed Portal by the Vendor or by the Control Tower within our Transportation Execution Platform. The Control Tower optimizes each shipment to route via service and/or cost. Each shipper or vendor enterprise is unique and limits visibility of the user to their specific enterprise while providing overall visibility to our client for all shipment activity. Real-time visibility by our clients is immediate giving our clients purchasing, scheduling and customer service teams actual statuses of shipments during the shipment lifecycle. User defined, Exception and Performance reporting can all be scheduled and delivered via email to our client’s team in various formats.

    The Control Tower Benefits:

    •  Tailored System Configurations – Unique set up for each client to include Unlimited Users and Structured Visibility by User, no one size fits all approach.
    • Online Reporting to include user defined reports for real-time shipment activity, exception reporting, financial and performance based reporting.
    • Use of our Client’s Contracted Carrier Rates or Rockfarm Procured Solution Rates for carrier selection.
    • Documents – Create tailored branded documents to meet the needs of your business to include Bill of Lading, Labels, Pack Slip and International Export Documents.
    • Carrier Management – Continually reviewing carrier performance, rates, and value to create the best solution for the client

    Client’s Perspective

    “Visibility to our inbound vendor shipments has given our planning and purchasing departments a strategic edge in minimizing inventory and scheduling production of our finished products.”

    “Optimization of our outbound shipments is critical to maintain cost while still meeting our customers’ expectations. Rockfarm’s Control Tower delivers the results we need to maintain our competitive advantage in the market place.”

  • Procurement Initiative Drives $432k Bottom Line Savings

    Rockfarm’s Upstream Procurement Value Identifies Optimal Results

    Customer Profile

    Accuride Corporation is one of the largest and most diversified manufacturers and suppliers of commercial vehicle components in North America. Business and brand names include Billion Iron Works, Accuride Wheel End Solutions and Gunite. Production facilities include the Rockford, IL Plant that also serves as a foundry operation for the production of Gunite Brake Drums utilized within the commercial vehicle industry.

    The Customer’s Initiative

    Increasing pricing pressure in the market place prompted a pricing review of all Accuride Corporation purchased materials. As a result of this review, the Gunite Purchasing Team located in the Rockford, IL plant began identifying potential opportunities outside the traditional raw material supply chain and began to take a non-traditional look at their bulk raw materials used to produce their steel brake drums. One potential avenue to lower cost was to review their bulk coke material. Coke is used as a vital ingredient in the production of their steel brake drums in their foundry. The challenge was identifying the breakdown of their tonnage cost within the traditional delivered pricing structure that is typically used for bulk commodities. Today Gunite’s coke product is delivered via dump truck at a delivered price per ton. In reviewing all potential avenues to reduce cost, including freight expense, Gunite re-quested supply chain support from Rockfarm, their supply chain solutions partner.

    The Rockfarm Solution

    Rockfarm began supporting Gunite’s initiative by conducting a market analysis of freight costs from the processor to the Gunite plant. Once a baseline was established it allowed the Gunite Purchasing Team to breakout product cost from freight cost within the delivered price. Benchmarks were then identified for material and freight which allowed Rockfarm’s procurement team to begin mapping cost metrics of the bulk coke from the originating mine through the coke processor to Gunite’s plant in Rockford, IL. By pushing up the raw material value stream negotiations with each party in the product stream were leveraged with the focus on Gunite as the end customer to both the coke processor and the coal mine. As a result of efforts with the Gunite Purchasing Team, Rockfarm was able to identify value that resulted in $432k in savings off the current delivered price. The Gunite Purchasing Team was able to formalize a longer-term contract at a lower delivered price. The visibility created over the entire raw material value stream secured bottom line value for Accuride Corporation.

    Client’s Perspective

    “Rockfarm’s ability to provide market analysis and capture cost metrics, provided me with the visibility of our transportation costs that we did not have prior to engagement with Rockfarm on our cost reduction initiative” – Evan Haffenden, Buyer, Accuride Corporation

    “As a valued partner Rockfarm’s strategy to understand the entire product value stream enabled my team to identify the opportunities to reduce costs. As a result we delivered a big win for the organization and the Gunite Team.” – Jonathan VanPlew, Commodity Manager, Accuride Corporation.

  • Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions Starting From Scratch

    “MercuryGate has not become just a software service to us, but more of a partner in our business as we continue to grow.” — Brad Stewart, President

    New Lsp Needed A Multimodal Tms For All Services

    Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions, a logistics service provider out of Illinois, started its business in 2008. As a startup company, Rockfarm began researching possible TMS solutions to support their business plans. Armed with an idea, Rockfarm needed a platform that could execute across all modes of transportation, manage all Service Types, and simultaneously offer the capabilities for optimization and Freight Audit.

    Having a system with the ability to offer services, starting with the sales process, all the way to final delivery of product with visibility throughout the cycle is important to Rockfarm. Equally important is the ability to onboard new clients while empowering the customer’s control over certain aspects of execution.

    Launching Domestic and International Services

    Rockfarm chose MercuryGate TMS as a platform that could handle all current requirements and add additional capabilities as their business grew. They launched in April of 2008 and brought on a few large clients in their first year, while setting up the processes that would propel their business in the years to come.

    Rockfarm has since been able to expand their service offering with a TMS that gives them room to grow. Since inception, Rockfarm has launched domestic and international service offerings using the MercuryGate TMS. The solution allows them Control Tower Visibility and data analytics that ensures they are meeting customer requirements throughout the life cycle of the service that was offered.

    We were in search of that ultimate platform that we knew could grow with us as we grew and that’s where MercuryGate was the chosen one. Having the technology base and platform of MercuryGate has enabled us to really grow and expand services beyond just the traditional transportation management.” — Brad Stewart, President

    Challenge

    Rockfarm required a solution that could execute across all modes of transportation, manage all service types, and simultaneously offer the capabilities for optimization and freight audit.

    The Solution

    Rockfarm chose MercuryGate TMS because it was a solution that could handle all current domestic and international requirements, while also giving them additional capabilities as their business grew.

    The Results

    Since adopting MercuryGate technology in 2008, Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions has grown their business to over $98 million.

    About Mercurygate

    MercuryGate provides powerful transportation management solutions proven to be a competitive advantage for today’s most successful shippers, 3PLs, freight forwarders, brokers, and carriers. Through the continued release of innovative, results-driven technology and a commitment to making customers successful, MercuryGate delivers exceptional value for TMS users through improved productivity and operational efficiency.

    Expanding Services With Best-Of-Breed Technology

    MercuryGate has helped drive Rockfarm’s processes with best-of-breed technology that has allowed the company to expand its services to the transactional market. Rockfarm has experienced growth within their current client base with the flexibility and adaptability of the MercuryGate TMS. Even with the significant growth, it has had since 2008, the company continues to strive for bigger and better. The MercuryGate foundation is the right technology solution to help them get there.

    Tms Adoption Drives Revenue Across Multiple Lines Of Business

    Since the adoption of MercuryGate technology, Rockfarm Supply Chain Solutions has grown their business to $98 million in eight years with a target to surpass $120 million in four more years.

    Approximately two-thirds of revenue comes from freight under management and the remaining third from transportation contract logistics and freight brokerage. Rockfarm manages this growth without significantly increasing the resources necessary to manage the business.

    Most recently, Rockfarm has taken their operations international with new freight forwarding services. With the power of MercuryGate TMS, Rockfarm is able to execute their business at a price point that is the most competitive in the marketplace. Rockfarm sees growth opportunities as MercuryGate introduces new functionalities and services. The company is now able to drive processes and quickly enhance those for both their current and prospective clients.

  • Owning the Cost of Fulfillment Yields Profitability

    A Marketplace Transformation Driven by Amazon

    In early March 2019, Amazon began working with longtime vendors to sell direct on Amazon’s marketplace versus purchasing vendors’ goods and reselling them in Amazon’s online store. With this shift, Amazon reduced its inventory carrying cost, resulting in lower markups on the goods purchased, from a high of 34% to a now small but profitable percentage of 10% for facilitating the sale. Amazon isn’t alone; Target, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods are each aggressively expanding their own marketplace initiatives. Now forced to compete in these online marketplaces, manufacturers and distributers must address the inefficiencies in their fulfillment operations or succumb to competitors.

    The many costs associated with handling of goods, whether fulfilled in-house or outsourced, can easily consume most of the profit in a sale. Exacerbating the challenge, few firms have visibility into the true cost per-SKU in fulfilling a given order and little ability to constrain those costs. While many are struggling to adapt to the increasingly high demands of e-commerce, one 123-year old, family-owned maker of cast-iron skillets was already preparing.

    Brick and mortar retail isn’t dead

    Consumers still seek out physical retail locations to handle merchandise, but many leave empty-handed, preferring to comparison shop online and make their purchase online. So it’s no surprise that e-commerce orders are growing ~40% every year. With 100 million Amazon Prime members, it’s also no surprise that Amazon is often where consumers go to seek the lowest price. While retailers still need to purchase and stock inventory, the most profitable path available to retailers is to direct manufacturers to fulfill their e-commerce marketplace orders themselves via drop-ship.

    How Lodge adapted to a shifting e-commerce environment

    In recent years, Lodge Manufacturing Company was riding a wave of millenial enthusiasm for their cast-iron skillets, and was turning down orders due to insufficient production capacity. The increase in sales volume led them to build an additional foundry as well as a new distribution center, since their existing DC was inadequate for the increased volume. Their current ERP software and paper-based picking operations were inefficient, and they knew they needed to embrace a modern WMS. Lodge is not alone; countless manufacturers still pick orders by paper, log shorts with a pencil, and keep operations staff busy managing exceptions and other inefficiencies.

    Re-envisioning their fulfillment operation

    Lodge retained Tom French, Founder of Supply Chain Coach, a Rockfarm family company, to identify both inefficiencies and opportunities. Together, they evaluated outsourcing fulfillment to a 3PL vs their internal fulfillment. An earlier implementation of EVS’ mobe3® WMS was already running in the foundry but Supply Chain Coach initiated a more thorough analysis and redesign of their entire fulfillment process for Lodge’s new distribution center, which would combine the operations of three older sites into one. In the end, Lodge would implement EVS’ new-generation, cloud and iOS-based WMS (mobe3® WMS) that would integrate with their ERP (Sage MAS 500 ERP) and a TMS to provide a streamlined and integrated fulfillment process, with the added bonus of SKU-level business intelligence.

    Three goals emerged for the initiative:

    • Improving DC flow-through both in increased volume as well as reduction in order fulfillment time, without adding more headcount.
    • Creating the internal ability to provide drop ship fulfillment for our other retailers so that we could “expand the aisle”. There is only so much shelf space and we wanted more of our products to reach more customers.
    • Making the changes while maintaining the company culture – the most important goal for Lodge.

    Begin with the End in Mind

    Rather than reproducing their existing pick processes in the new WMS and then seeking incremental improvement, Supply Chain Coach analyzed historical picking and freight data to reimagine from the ground up. Excluding atypical orders and aggregating similar orders yielded a composite picture and an initial vision of multiple zones: each pick, case pick, pallet pick and so forth, with slotting determined by velocity.

    Supply Chain Coach advised Lodge that a transition was needed: from people-oriented processes (long time employees making ad hoc decisions) to a new data-driven business process. Work would be completed ‘in parallel” rather than ‘sequentially’, wringing inefficiency out of the familiar but crude system. Crucially, this shift had to be accomplished without undermining the congenial company culture. Little training would be needed; workers would get their instructions on an iPhone or iPad attached to their picking carts.

    The ultimate goal was to not only to accelerate fulfillment but to gain the ability to allocate fulfillment cost down to the item/SKU level so managers could price products accordingly and ensure the long-term viability of the company and job security for their valued employees. By recognizing their responsibility for the profitability of their fulfillment operations, adopting a data-driven approach and an integrated cloud based solution with a versatile WMS and TMS platform, Lodge positioned itself to achieve the lowest possible cost to serve. They would also need the IT infrastructure to accept electronic orders from various retail partners and cost-effectively drop-ship those orders within a far shorter timeframe than their usual order flow.

    Separate systems, integrated via handoffs

    To this end, Supply Chain Coach advised Lodge to disconnect their systems. When systems like ERP and WMS and TMS are all connected, the processing speed of each of the systems can become painfully slow. One solution is to “disconnect and integrate.” This allows each piece of software to operate separately and efficiently but to pass essential information to the other systems via handoffs. For example, when a wave of orders is processed in the WMS, the ERP recognizes that items have been picked and adjusts the inventory accordingly. System integration requires careful configuration and testing but once complete yields multiple benefits.

    Driving down shipping costs

    The previous evening’s e-commerce orders from retailers show up in the ERP in the early hours of the morning. EVS’ mobe3® WMS automatically assembles and prioritizes the individual orders into shipments, and then hands that data to the TMS, which optimizes for picking. The TMS optimization could entail consolidating LTL to TL, or small packages into pallets, sorted and batched by 3 digit zip codes: ready for UPS postal drop. In the process, the cost-per-pound of the average shipment (Lodge’s most important KPI) would be shifted from $.43 per pound for small packages towards more freight shipped at TL rates around $.08 cents per pound. Warehouse staff build these optimized pallets guided by WMS software. In practice, they achieved cost reductions of 25%.

    Lodge's Average Cost per Pound

    Lodge’s Average Cost per Pound has been reduced by ~25%, from 25c/pound to 18c/pound.

    350% Faster Picking

    After a three-month design phase and just three days of familiarization, Lodge’s employees’ line picking speed increased from 37 picks per hour to 90 picks per hour and eventually to 100 picks per hour. That 350% acceleration reduced total fulfillment time from ten days to three. This had the additional benefit of improving Lodge’s adherence to their customers’ requested ship dates (including drop-shipped e-commerce orders), strengthening their relationships with retail partners.

    Visibility and Leverage

    The promise of improved systems was to increase the order flow thru without increasing headcount (which was Lodge’s goal) but to build more resilience into the system to accommodate surges in orders, and to free up staff for more valuable work. Specifically, with reliable data now in hand, Lodge was able to report their actual fulfillment costs from their ERP. Combined with real cost data associated with manufacturing and processing, Lodge was able to establish actual profit by customer and by individual item. Lodge management was then in a better position to prioritize production, focus their marketing and make other decisions to emphasize their most profitable SKUs.

    These mobe3® dashboards show pick performance (below) and warehouse capacity (further below)

    pick performance

    warehouse velocity

    Managing Change

    A fear of change, and the high cost of disruption to operations often provide the rationale for avoiding improvements in distribution operations. Some keys to Lodge’s success:

    • Step-by-Step Approach: Supply Chain Coach’s six step process (see below), from Data Extraction to Continuous Improvement Mindset ensured that design decisions were grounded in data, not opinion or anecdote.
    • Visualize First: mobe3®’s modelling capabilities allowed for progressive optimization of the planned warehouse processes.
    • Addressing Worker Concerns: Lodge’s leadership clearly communicated that the initiative wasn’t about reducing headcount but meeting the challenges of e-commerce fulfillment for other retailers, expanding the aisle so to speak, and addressing the time pressure posed by Amazon.
    • Cloud-based software: robust software is always being improved upon, and the need to manually update software on multiple computers creates unnecessary costs and issues. By implementing cloud-based WMS and TMS, Lodge freed up its operations and IT staff for more productive, analytical work.
    • Smartphone App: EVS’ familiar smartphone-based interface shortened the learning curve for employees use to low-tech, paper-based picking.
    • By owning the cost of fulfillment, they were well positioned to embrace the shift to marketplace, expand the aisle in many other retailers and drive more sales.

    Supply Chain Coach and their six step process

    Optimizing the flow of material and information through Lodge’s entire network (Foundry and DCs, ERP and WMS) identified areas in their supply chain that could benefit most from new processes and technology.

    Step One: Data Extraction

    Lodge’s product line encompasses 600 SKUs, and their workers move more than a million pounds of iron each week. It’s not easy to discern signal from noise in that volume of order data. Tom French of Supply Chain Coach extracted a full year’s data from Lodge’s SAGE ERP system: all of Lodge’s sales orders, down to the SKU level and customer level. Among other insights, he accounted for multiple variables that represented 80% of the sales order activity, such that the outlier orders wouldn’t overly influence overall design. Picks were delineated by type: how many were each pick, multiple case to pallet, single case to pallet, etc. In Lodge’s case, 90% of their volume was multiple case to pallet, with the remainder mostly a single SKU. The data suggested the need for multiple zones: one for each pick (e-commerce orders, which would become even more important after implementation), multiple case to pallet (sort and segment), single case to pallet, and another for consolidating mixed pallets.

    Extracting historical data on inbound and outbound shipments is an essential first step and a difficult one for most companies. Often, the right historical data is hard to locate both internally and from the carriers who handle your freight. In this step, establish a baseline for modelling by plugging in your historical purchase order details such as origin, destination, weight/cube, freight cost, freight class (if LTL), and mode.

    Step Two: Analysis

    In this phase, a freight ‘profile’ emerges and weaknesses in the current system are identified and addressed. In this case, Lodge’s ERP system didn’t capture the weight/dimension data critical for shippers, so shipments could only be booked once the final pallets were built, wrapped and weighed. This sequential process was responsible for the pace of fulfillment, while the additional human touches required after inventory left the foundry were adding unsustainable cost. To address this, Lodge would need a WMS and a TMS, running separately but in coordination. Only then would they be able to book shippers for orders as the orders were being built, knowing in advance their total dimension and weight. The analysis also suggested a path to dramatic and measurable cost savings and reduction in fulfillment time. This solidified Lodge’s commitment to the process.

    Analyzing the shipment history yields a freight profile. This consists of origin and destination maps and mode specifics used to determine which “what if’ scenarios to model. When model scenarios and variations are run and explored, a proposed solution can emerge, with associated benefits and cost savings.

    Step Three: Design

    Based on the data and analysis, Supply Chain Coach modelled different design solutions with Lodge’s team and a specialist from EVS. After evaluating different pick paths and pallet building schemas, their final recommendation was to replace older DCs with a new 250,000 square foot fulfilment center, including a 10,000 square foot each pick zone for e-commerce orders. Software integration would proceed stepwise: Lodge’s ERP would be integrated with mobe3®, then with their new WMS and thereafter with a new TMS.

    By involving Lodge staff in the process of analysis and design, Lodge gained competence and understanding that better prepared them for later steps.

    Having identified the solution, there remains a substantial amount of groundwork to prepare for implementation:

    • Establish the metrics by which success will be measured.
    • Consider precisely how to integrate existing with new Software.
    • Determine applicable business rules such as shipping and receiving hours.
    • Integrate the new process with accounts payable and accounts receivable.

    It’s essential to use the analysis and design process to invest your company’s team with the skills and experience that will serve them well as your business (and logistics needs) evolve.

    Step Four: Construction

    At this phase, Lodge staff worked with Supply Chain Coach and their dedicated EVS specialist to create a new layout from their racking vendor to improve the layout by zone to break up the orders to be managed by each zone manager and consolidate before shipping. They modelled different variations, fine-tuning via virtual slotting before actually laying out the DC. They refined pick path rules e.g. deployment of replenishment waves. By executing further scenario modelling, stakeholders could be assuaged that the disruption to ongoing operations will be modest and the benefits dramatic and sustainable.

    During the construction phase, we:

    • Configure the new warehouse configuration and/or transportation network and load it with all the initial set up information developed during the design phase.
    • Run tests to make sure it performs as required, and refine further via modelling.

    This stage affords your team the opportunity to gain insight and experience from Supply Chain Coach. Your managers are not only guided through each step but trained to handle variations that could arise in the future.

    Step Five: Implementation

    At this point in the process, nothing has been left to chance. Picking processes and workflows for each pick, case pick and pallet picking have been modelled and mapped, and every exception and nuance explored. As the new processes were launched, line picking speed quickly ramped up and stabilized at an average improvement of 357%. Furthermore, mobe3® was also providing visibility into the true cost of fulfilling different order types, which would provide data to inform pricing decisions.

    Two of the most critical and often challenging implementation tasks are:

    • Getting your personnel to document standard operating procedures for the processes your new model requires.
    • Making sure the staff is trained to use and manage their new process, whether it’s changes in workflow or adoption and full implementation of new software.

    Our experienced coaches help your managers run tests to uncover any details that are missing from the written procedures and set guidelines to handle exceptions.

    Step Six: Continuous Improvement

    It doesn’t end with success. At this point, Lodge’s operations team had worked side-by-side with Supply Chain Coach from data extraction to implementation and had a seasoned team capable of regularly revisiting the data and proposing new solutions. The accelerated picking rate freed up distribution center capacity to begin to plan for next-day orders, something unimaginable just a few months before. At Supply Chain Coach’s suggestion, post-implementation reviews would be performed after six weeks and at regular intervals to identify further areas for improvement.

    The successful launch of the new WMS gave the IT and operations team the confidence to take on their next challenge: adopting a TMS, the benefits of which were described above.

    With a trained staff that has gone through the entire process from data extraction to implementation, you now have a team that is capable of periodically revisiting the data and proposing new solutions.

    • We recommend that you begin this process four to six weeks after implementation:
    • You will have captured a complete set of data that will provide operating results for your new transportation and/or warehouse process.

    Your management team will be able to identify current or new processes to modify for greater results in service and cost.

    Conclusion

    Ultimately, each manufacturer has responsibility for the profitability of their entire operation. This represents a shift in orientation, requiring design thinking to deliver profitability for any order type (wholesale, mixed pallet, each pick, direct to store, direct to consumer). Outsourcing to 3PLs, while convenient, no longer ensures profitability, with competition and customer expectations becoming increasingly more complex and challenging. The emergence of modern, versatile and affordable WMS software like EVS’ mobe3® creates an opportunity for forward-looking manufacturers like Lodge to increase profitability and increase market share. By utilizing cloud-based WMS and TMS to radically re-invent their distribution operations without incurring large expense in IT operations and which provide quick deployment, they would be able to compete and thrive in the changing needs of the current supply chain.

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