A Custom Digital Solution for Efficient Pallet Distribution on Trucks Improved Restocking Calculation Accuracy in Warehouses
Problem & Background
Any large manufacturer can attest that ensuring proper material delivery is critical to production success. Calculating logistics components for material size and weight – along with coordinating deliveries to coincide with on-demand production schedules is a multi-faceted, complicated process. Any miscalculation can easily turn into an expensive error. High-volume manufacturers understand that logistics efficiency and just-in-time delivery are key components in reducing costs and maximizing production. Numerous products like detergents and their variations in size or fragrance require special additives and packaging. Managing all these variables on spreadsheets is a process prone to human error. Our client was constantly wrestling with mistakes in calculating material quantities and scheduling deliveries.
This global leader manufactures huge quantities of household items including detergents and personal care products. One of its European plants is so huge, it’s been called a mini-city, and within its walls are housed complex production lines that make and package various fragrances and sizes of its products. But that’s only the beginning. This plant but also encompasses warehouses and transportation bays. Plus, it also manages two other off-site facilities. Problems arise when shipping delays or improper quantities impact production flow. Valuable material is wasted if additives are not applied at certain stages of production.
This client called upon Vertex for a solution that would eliminate efficiency lags in stocking production materials at its warehouses. Because they had been using manual Excel sheets with macros and entering data from SAP, it had been difficult to calculate and process accurate inventory levels. Problem was, line schedules could vary, and our client needed to ensure the right amount of products was going in and out of facilities to meet production requirements. Collaboration among teams and locations was slow and disorganized. Our client needed a way to quickly access information in a timely manner and apply this knowledge for three different shipping times throughout the day.
The Vertex Solution
Vertex created a supply chain solution that provided just-in-time inventory management. Our client’s main facility was a hub of its material shipping network. Giant automated conveyor belts loaded products onto pallets that were stacked in docking areas before being loaded onto trucks headed to other plants or warehouses. At any time, 16-20 docking ports had stacks of pallets ready to be loaded and shipped. The height and weight of the pallet load – as well as the length of the journey to the next production facility – affected how the trucks could be loaded. Many trucks could carry about 26 pallets, but filling to capacity was only one piece of the puzzle. The solution needed to account for multiple arrangements including placing orders and ensuring proper restocking quantities at other facilities.
Vertex’s first order of business was to study the existing process and find ways to increase efficiency by removing the possibility of human error from calculation. By building an ASP.NET application with a Microsoft SQL database that integrated with Windows Active Directory to authenticate users, our client was able to upload files directly from SAP. This not only saved significant time, but also ensured the proper data was being loaded and used for stocking and transportation calculations.
Taking the process to the next level, Vertex surpassed client expectations by not only improving efficiency, but by also providing a visual representation that showed each truck’s location during transit and the quantity of pallets on each one – along with the particular contents. Our client was now able to see a rendering of each truck at various stages of its journey – and know for sure what was on the truck and where it was headed. Because our customer could discern how many trucks were heading in and out, they could then determine what to restock for upcoming production runs. Otherwise, our client was relying on SAP to know what had been requested, what was being manufactured at the plant and any excess amounts of materials they needed to ship to other locations for replenishment. Formerly, this information could only be ascertained from a spreadsheet.
Vertex’s new tool provided color-coded visual alerts and materials availability notifications. Real-time information allowed people to react to changes as needed.
Vertex’s tool increased transportation and production efficiency tremendously. The system optimized how pallets were loaded onto trucks, noting weight, volume, and length of the transport journey, saving our client about 90 minutes on each of its three delivery cycles per day. Our customer could schedule production runs with confidence, knowing that the right materials and additives would be available on demand. Because transportation efficiencies improved, our client saved on gas and vehicle maintenance costs.
- Integration with SAP and Windows Active Directory
- Determines the optimal configuration of pallet loads for trucks based on weight, size and journey length
- Automates restocking calculation for each product at distribution centers
- Pallet planning efficiency tool promotes optimal transportation loads
- Visual renderings of trucks, their contents, and locations
- Generates an Excel table containing all product codes and the quantity of pallets on each truck
- Stored SAP files from the past week for reference
- Automatic alerts notify users of material whereabouts
- Role-based permissions allow users to see information pertinent to their needs
- Gained transportation efficiencies (fuel and vehicle maintenance savings)
- On-demand materials delivery improves production efficiency
- Significant savings in time and effort – up to 4.5 hours per day (90 minutes on 3 cycles per day)
- Improved production scheduling based on valid data
- Human errors have been eliminated as automated processes accurately calculate restocking levels
- Optimized pallet planning for cost-effective truck loads
- Restocking output is also stored to generate relevant reports based on requirements
Vertex is a business and technology consulting ﬁrm that helps customers transform their business processes with leading edge technology. Learn more at www.vertexcs.com.
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Vertex Computer Systems
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