Magazine Article | October 1, 2000

Radio Frequency: The 'Write' Choice in Warehouse Management

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Writing instrument company Sanford, Inc. integrated a new warehouse management system (WMS) with its existing order processing system. Sanford has experienced no errors in picking since then.

Integrated Solutions, October 2000

Sanford, Inc., a division of The Newell Company (Shelbyville, TN), was a small-scale writing instrument company. Its products were pens, permanent markers, and pencils. Its warehouse management system (WMS) consisted of a couple packers, some pick lists, and a few products. Life was simple. Then the company acquired several new office supply companies. The acquisition led to a new 280,000-square-foot distribution center that housed a larger, more diverse volume of products. Sanford was in over its head. The company needed to move to a more mechanized WMS.

Sanford, Inc. searched for a complete solution that addressed carousel control, order picking, and tracking. They found only pieces…until they discovered Vertex Interactive (El Segundo, CA). The Vertex WMS gathers all the orders from Sanford's main order processing system. It then releases the information to the appropriate areas of Vertex WMS: WareRite, PicRite, TurnRite, PutRite, and CartRite.

Using Real Time And Radio Frequency In Different Functional Areas
WareRite is a real-time warehouse inventory and order management system. It controls and records all product movements, from receipt through order picking and shipment. Radio frequency (RF) allows Sanford to track all product movement. PicRite is used in flow-rack, shelving, and pallet-flow order picking applications. The system guides the Sanford picker to the products to be picked. It also specifies the quantities required. PicRite allows the picker to indicate pick-complete or pick-shortages directly at the pick location. TurnRite is used in carousel batch order processing applications. It controls all industry-standard, horizontal and vertical carousels. The system supports multiple workstation operations, with each workstation consisting of multiple carousels. TurnRite combines carousel-pick and batch operations, as well as carousel restocking and cycle counting functions. The system controls the rotation of the carousel to deliver the product to the Sanford picker. Light displays guide the picker to the proper bin pick location. The system supports light-directed batching that guides distribution of the picks into the proper cartons.

PutRite is used where products delivered in full cases are distributed to individual cartons. The system guides distribution to the appropriate location and tracks all product quantities put into each carton.

CartRite is used in Sanfords' medium-to-slow moving SKU applications. It has picking for areas not equipped with a pick-to-light system. CartRite combines computer controlled loose or split case picking with batch processing, and controls batch picking into shipping cartons or totes by directing users to the proper warehouse location.

To meet Sanford's productivity requirements, Vertex WMS combined all applications with the conveyor system so that orders are delivered to the proper shipping location when needed. Orders are then loaded onto trailers under wireless/RF-system control. From order release through trailer loading, Vertex WMS tracks each order's location and status.

Shipping, Tracking, Eliminating Errors
Each of the Vertex WMS applications integrates with each other and enables Sanford to ship 40,000 cartons daily. It tracks 170 million writing instruments at more than 27,000 bulk, flow rack, and carousel locations. The system maintains a database of the location of every pallet, carton, or unit within the facility, and inventory is on-hand at all times.

According to Sanford, the primary benefit was the company's decrease in picking errors. Before Vertex, the majority of Sanford's errors were transposition errors. For example, a picker might pick the correct quantity, but the wrong product. Or sometimes, an employee might pick the wrong quantity. For example, a number three might look like the number eight. According to Sanford there has not been one picking error since installing the Vertex WMS.

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