A Stiff Shot of Better Inventory Management

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission streamlines its operations, improves efficiency and meets growing customer demand with a new inventory management system


With 1,400 regular items in stock at any one time, not counting special orders, new items being added almost every day, and a goal to double its number of yearly shipments, the OLCC realized it needed to make some dramatic changes to its warehouse processes.

In its search for a new solution, the organization had four main criteria: the ability to know where every item was in the distribution center at all times, for the system to be able to interface with the existing legacy COBOL system and future systems, full visibility across the entire warehouse, inventory and distribution processes, and the ability to immediately begin using radio frequency (RF) technology.
After an extensive RFP process, the OLCC chose Robocom’s RIMS inventory management system.

“After looking at the various products on the market, Robocom was the only vendor that had exactly what we were looking for, and they provided us with answers to all of our questions. RIMS was a really good fit for our needs,” says Mallon.

Based on the Progress OpenEdge platform, RIMS is a flexible warehouse management system (WMS) that integrates with major front-end business systems and provides supply chain visibility critical to success in today’s global marketplace, according to the solution provider. Designed to maximize productivity and streamline warehouse operations, RIMS offers an effective method of optimizing the flow of materials and goods in and out of a warehouse while ensuring high levels of accuracy in the distribution process.

A browser-based system operating on a variety of platforms, RIMS is a menu-driven application designed to satisfy the requirements of a variety of warehouse operations, from simple paper-driven systems to completely wireless environments. In addition, RIMS integrates with external material handling devices (such as carousels and conveyors) to provide maximum control over warehouse and inventory activities.

A Fast and Smooth Implementation

According to Mallon, the implementation process was fast and extremely smooth. “We completed the implementation in half the time of Robocom’s previous shortest install. It took just 16 weeks from start to acceptance. And it was really much shorter than that because there were four weeks at the end where we were up and running and doing some little debugging. Once we switched over to live testing we never went back. User adoption has been very successful. Within days everyone was using the system and we were immediately seeing efficiency improvements.”

The OLCC is using RIMS to run its entire distribution center. All new items are received into the system, and from there all receipts are automatically sent to the legacy COBOL system. “As soon as an item is received on the floor our legacy system knows and it has been added to that inventory, so we have immediate visibility,” says Mallon.

All orders still come into the legacy system and are automatically sent down to distribution. RIMS takes those orders and identifies the picking that needs to be done. It uses those orders to generate demand replenishment to draw forward from bulk locations to pick locations to make sure there is enough on the pick location to meet demand for the next shipping day. “As we pick, it then creates more replenishment, not for the orders but to keep minimum stock levels at each of the pick locations – a crucial step for maintaining our efficiency levels and meeting customer demand,” says Mallon.

The OLCC uses a simple conveyer system that consists of four linear conveyers. All items pass by a scanner and RIMS verifies what goes by the scanner against what is expected for the order. The system then produces the paperwork to accompany a shipment, sends a confirmation to the COBOL system that the order went out, and the COBOL system then applies that information to the agent’s account.

“Everything that is done with our distribution center is done with RIMS,” says Mallon. “If we move a product from one spot on the floor to another, we scan it from one location to another. So all of our receipts, all of our product movement, all of our order fulfillment, they are all done with RIMS.”

Accelerating the Business

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