Magazine Article | February 1, 2006

Increase Accuracy of DC To 99.75%

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

This apparel supplier's DC (distribution center) processes
more than 50,000 units per day at an accuracy
rate of 99.75% with a new picking system.

Integrated Solutions, February 2006
SaraMax Apparel Group, Inc. supplies intimate apparel to men's, women's, and children's departments of medium to large retailers including Wal-Mart, KMart, and JCPenney. As a distributor to Wal-Mart, SaraMax wanted to be included on Wal-Mart's direct store DC (DSDC) supplier list. In order to meet this goal, SaraMax needed to increase the accuracy and turnaround time of its order fulfillment, while doubling its DC's capacity. It needed to either significantly increase labor costs to meet the throughput and deadline requirements with paper-based practices or incorporate technological advancements to achieve the goal without increasing labor.


Stan Greenstein, SaraMax's president, and Steve Lind, its director of distribution, researched solutions to improve efficiency of its new DC in New Jersey. After reviewing all options, SaraMax implemented AL Systems' DynaPick Pick-to-Light solution, a paperless picking system that uses light-directed technology. This system is supported by a conveyor system from AL Systems' sister company, W&H Systems.

The DynaPick Pick-to-Light solution uses bright light emitting device (LED) displays, voice-directed hardware, or radio frequency (RF) guns to guide DC employees through the order picking process. It replaces paper picking lists with light displays or voice commands to improve productivity and accuracy. In addition, the cost and confusion of printing, sorting, and distributing packing lists are eliminated. The DynaPick system was implemented using the LED displays and was customized to provide the high degree of accuracy necessary for SaraMax to meet its goal, based on SaraMax's specific number of stock keeping units. DynaPick can be configured to operate in several different modes, including order picking, replenishment, or returns processing.


"We integrated four audit stations into our order fulfillment processes," says Lind. "The system can be configured to audit 10% to 100% of items during the order fulfillment process. We audit an average of 50% of our orders. By raising the percentage of items audited to 100% when introducing new items or programs, we have an extra line of defense in catching potential errors. Prior to auditing, we fulfilled orders at an accuracy rate of 99.75%. After auditing, orders are fulfilled at a 100% accuracy rate, while processing more than 50,000 units in a 7.5-hour shift."

The solution also provides a centralized picking controls system run on Sun Microsystems servers and workstations. SaraMax integrated the solution with its warehouse management system (WMS). The system provides comprehensive reports on picker productivity and accuracy, workload requirements, and exception logs. "This feature has enabled us to quickly modify the order of picking operations, if necessary," says Lind.

Three months after implementing this solution, SaraMax met its goal by achieving Wal-Mart's DSDC supplier list, while doubling its capacity and eliminating paper within its DC.

To further improve its DC processes, SaraMax is implementing a carton-level radio frequency identification (RFID) system supplied by AL Systems throughout its facility. It hopes to continually improve turnaround time for its customers in the future.