The pressure to increase efficiency and improve costs to offset the rising freight costs associated with increasing B2C workflows in support of omni-channel continues to increase. Retailers, distributors, and even manufacturers are feeling the impact. The following success story highlights some of the key results from a case study being published in July 2015, Case-In-Point: Mobile Event and Labor Management Systems — Direct Store Delivery.
Douglas Companies completed a large expansion to its primary facility, closing two other DCs in the process. It consolidated its entire distribution operation, which handles around 7,300 products from freezer items to cigarettes. While Douglas began by making changes to mobility in the warehouse, it has expanded to mobility in store delivery. The move has enabled Douglas to sharpen end-to-end operations and become highly efficient and accurate in all phases of their business. The results are impressive as shown in Table 1.
The new process at Douglas Companies of utilizing new wireless multimodal (WMM) wrist units (which also have voice capability) started in order picking, but has since moved far beyond. While there are unique challenges in using WMM wrist units beyond the shop floor or the four walls of the distribution center, they also come with additional benefits. The new mobile unit modules have been deployed to cover picking but have also expanded to truck loading and store delivery/unloading, where the WMM units ensure that trucks are loaded accurately and packages are delivered to the correct stores.
In the warehouse, each completed tote and case is given a unique container ID that is printed on the package label, along with the route, stop, item description, and delivery information. In addition, the company has made an added investment in a separate labor module from the solutions provider to support the truck-loading and unloading process. The added module, and additional mobile units for truck loading, benefit from the unique label ID in the picking process. Truck loaders use the same multimodal wrist devices to scan and verify packages as they are loaded onto the trailers. This ensures that each labeled container is in the right stop location when loaded, and that all orders are complete. To complete the order-picking-to-store-delivery process, Douglas uses a delivery productivity module from the provider that allows packages to be scanned at the point of delivery by the driver. This one-to-one verification of each item as it is picked into the container, each container as it is loaded onto the truck, and each container at the point of delivery, ensures accuracy throughout the entire order-to-delivery cycle.
Read the related research report, Profitable Omni-Channel Fulfillment: Enterprise Wide Labor Solutions, and consider a mobile solution as a possible remedy to your distribution labor and delivery challenges.