In the late 1990s, Atlanta-based Lanier, which is the world’s largest private-label distributor of copiers, depended on lengthy manual methods for matching orders with inventory. A dated, disjointed inventory management system prevented the company from delivering the customer service it desired. According to Bill Cook, VP of logistics at Lanier, the company was bogged down by a variety of systems that weren’t linked in any way. “We had a tough time matching orders with inventory,” he says. “We wanted something that would help us better manage our warehouses, inventory, and orders.”
Ideally, says Cook, Lanier wanted to be able to link data so the company would have a virtual national inventory management and allocation system. So, for instance, if an order came out of the Northeast for 100 copiers, the system would search the inventory of all five of Lanier’s regional distribution centers to find a match. Lanier also wanted to give its customers a clear view of where their orders stand. “Before, our customers didn’t see any information other than whether or not their orders had been filled,” says Cook. This resulted in some 50,000 to 90,000 phone calls to Lanier each year to check on order status details.
Lanier’s search for a solution led it to Provia Software and its suite of supply chain execution products. Lanier selected the ViaWare Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management System (TMS), and ViaView Web-based visibility, alert management, and performance analysis software products.
“We wanted customers to have the same level of visibility that we had,” says Cook. “Customers are able to view all their order information and the real-time status of their orders.”
Since implementation, Lanier has reaped the benefits of the software combined with an enterprise-wide effort to reduce inventory. “We’ve been able to reduce inventory by 50% and take $100 million out of our U.S. levels,” says Cook. “We couldn’t have done that without being able to gather and share information throughout the supply chain.” Lanier also saw its call loads drop 50% and reduced its budgets by 20%.