Magazine Article | August 1, 2001

Integrated SCM Solves Logistics Problems

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Inefficient SCM (supply chain management) and noncompliance with the requirements of logistic companies, such as bar-coded labels, are a distributor's worst nightmare. Uniden America Corp. woke up and realized 15% savings after implementing an integrated fulfillment solution.

Integrated Solutions, August 2001

If you own a cordless phone or a miniature handheld radio, it's probably a safe assumption to say you either own or have heard of Uniden. Uniden America Corp. (Fort Worth, TX) is a national and international distributor of electronic products. From its North American headquarters it ships about 26,000 packages each month via FedEx, UPS, RPS, and USPS. The company incorporates an SCM (supply chain management) solution to run its business more efficiently. But Uniden's shipping and fulfillment system wasn't always so efficient.

Not Ready For Y2K
According to Mike Drzycimski, manager of information services for Uniden America, "Previously, we were using a very rudimentary shipping system. Not only did it not interface with our existing WMS (warehouse management system), but its efficiency was further constrained by separate, stand-alone manual processes for UPS and FedEx shipments." The final straw for Uniden regarding its legacy SCM system happened in mid-1999, just before the arrival of the Y2K scare. "Our system did not pass our Y2K compliance tests," recalls Drzycimski. "Additionally, UPS was requiring all shippers that had a certain level of shipments to transmit data electronically. Our system could not handle this requirement nor could we ship with U.S. mail."

Uniden's IS department began searching for a better solution that would interface with its WMS and enterprise AS/400 server. The company researched solutions from PfastShip, Varsity Logistics, and Pitney Bowes. The company was able to narrow its decision down to Pitney Bowes' Fulfillment Solutions. "Pitney Bowes went the extra step," recalls Drzycimski. "They actually came on-site and walked through our total shipping process, making recommendations in several areas that helped us streamline our shipping process." Pitney Bowes showed Uniden that by using one carrier over another for particular circumstances could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. "Initially, our warehouse staff was worried because the new solution was ready to be deployed in October - our busiest time of the year - but the whole process went very smoothly," says Drzycimski. Pitney Bowes partnered with The Mesa Group (Dallas), a national systems integrator and consulting company, to assist with Uniden's AS/400 program interfaces.

Compliant And Profitable SCM
Since October 1999, Uniden has used Fulfillment Solutions to process all small parcel shipments, including orders going to distributors and retailers, parts and accessories ordered online, and repaired products. "Our warehouse can now send packages to our four main carriers without having to go to separate machines for processing," says Drzycimski. "They all go down one line, and that saves a lot of time." Most importantly, Uniden's increased productivity translates to real labor savings. "We've reduced labor costs in shipping and warehousing by 15% since we installed Fulfillment Solutions," he says. Because Fulfillment Solutions is integrated with Uniden's WMS, Uniden has immediate access to its inventory data and better control over fulfillment and shipping. "Now that we have a single manifest and database, the process is easier to track and manage," says Drzycimski.

Uniden's manifest data is transmitted to its carriers every night. The carriers then cut a freight bill, apply any discounts, and transmit the bill to Uniden's traffic department, enabling the warehouse to start fulfilling the next day's orders immediately in the morning. Another benefit of the fulfillment solution has been the use of bar-coded labels. Unlike Uniden's previous "screen scrape" system, Fulfillment Solutions generates single stock bar code labels for each package. The new system meets label compliance and design requirements for all of Uniden's shipping companies. Other features of the new solution include rate shopping, online shipment confirmation, and auto routing. Uniden uses rate shopping's special pull-down screen feature to encourage its shipping department and order entry personnel to find the best carrier rates right from their workstations.

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