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


As a result of running a more streamlined, efficient business, the OLCC has dramatically accelerated its business, expecting it will ship approximately 1 million more cases annually than it did prior to the implementation. “Previously, we shipped about 1.8 million cases per year, and this year we are projecting we will do about 2.8 million. We can attribute that dramatic change to the fact that we are running a more efficient business. There is no way we could be getting that much out the door if we weren’t using RIMS,” explains Mallon.

Since implementing RIMS, Mallon says the OLCC has added eight employees. “We are shipping a million more cases a year, and at the same time also receiving a million more. So that is two million more cases that we are actually managing. To only add eight employees over six years while realizing that kind of growth is phenomenal.”

Moreover, the company has achieved the control and visibility it wanted. Says Mallon: “I can go into a screen in RIMS, call up an item, and look and see how many cases we have in each location, how much movement there is planned, whether it is just re-warehouse movement or picks to fulfill an order. I can look at the receiving floor and see how many pallets are there waiting to be stored. I can look at individual orders for today, tomorrow. If an agent calls with a question about an order, I can immediately look it up and give them the information they need. The system gives me everything I need at my fingertips. There is no more guessing or hunting for inventory. We now have total control over our warehouse.”

Moving Ahead

When the OLCC implemented RIMS, part of the project involved reconfiguring the warehouse. The organization put in place a completely new naming and numbering system. It cut its deep locations down so instead of having six deep there were no locations deeper than two pallets. It then reconfigured the entire warehouse, which resulted in a 25 percent loss of its total capacity because it put in numerous more aisles where there used to be bulk storage. The results of the reconfiguration project were significant, explains Mallon. “We gained a 33 percent efficiency increase, meaning we are able to store 33 percent more despite losing 25 percent of our physical storage space.”

Since the initial implementation, the OLCC has done more reconfiguring, put in racking and continued to make modifications to its naming structure. “RIMS is flexible enough that all of our additional physical changes have been very easily accommodated by RIMS to give us that visibility,” Mallon says.

In the near future, the OLCC plans to go in front of the state legislature to ask for additional money to support a new conveyer system. While RIMS has allowed the company to dramatically increase its efficiency levels, the company is in jeopardy of not meeting its customer satisfaction levels because parts of its physical infrastructure cannot support the growing demand.

“We have some deliveries that aren’t being made until 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening because we only ship out of one door,” notes Mallon. “We have 1,100 cases an hour we are able to ship out the door, but the more cases we have, it just makes for that much longer of a day. So we are looking at adding sortation to our conveyer system.”

If the OLCC is granted the funds it will purchase a new software package that will interface with RIMS and allow the organization to ship out of four doors simultaneously. “Robocom has put us in contact with some vendors, and they are helping us try to solve this issue and meet our goals,” Mallon says. “That is the benefit of working with Robocom – they have become a true partner for the long haul. I feel very lucky that we found Robocom. They are such a good fit; I am very thankful that things have worked out as nicely as they have.”

About the Author: Ken Schwarz is director, EID market planning and research, with Progress Software, a provider of application infrastructure software for the development, deployment, integration and management of business applications. The company is based in Bedford, Mass. More information is available at www.progress.com.

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