Early Learning Centre Makes Play for Supply Chain Perfection

TDG, Manhattan Associates partner to maximize DC efficiencies for U.K.-based toy retailer

Atlanta — August 4, 2004 — Pan-European logistics and supply-chain services company TDG plc has gone live with a warehouse management system (WMS) from Manhattan Associates at a U.K. distribution center as part of a drive to meet the high service standards expected by the DC's sole customer, toy retailer Early Learning Centre (ELC).

TDG has implemented Manhattan Associates' Warehouse Management solution at its 180,000-square-foot distribution center in Swindon, west of London. The TDG-operated facility serves as a dedicated national DC for the Early Learning Centre, receiving goods from ELC's suppliers in the United Kingdom and around the world and acting as a radial hub for the onward distribution of goods to the chain's 213-store network across the U.K.

In addition to the stores it owns, ELC has a direct mail order and Web site channel, a wholesale division supplying Sainsbury's and Boots, concessions within Debenhams and 5 Daisy and Tom children's department stores, as well as a number of franchise operations in overseas markets. Stores vary in size from 60 square meters within the smallest concession to 690 square meters in the largest store and are found in urban, as well as "out-of-town" locations.

The diversity of store formats means that the size and location of stockrooms varies enormously. Some outlets have an onsite store room, others have a storage area close by and some have neither. This means replenishment requires maximum flexibility and agility.

Manhattan said that the deployment of its warehouse management solution, running on IBM's eServer platform, has provided TDG with these capabilities and more. The company is now able to meet the high standards of service that ELC requires to fulfill the needs of its multi-channel retail operation.

The ability of the solution to be interfaced with ELC's existing merchandise management application, JDA's Portfolio Merchandise Management System-i (MMS), was a key factor in the decision to choose Manhattan Associates and proved to be a valuable attribute in the system's smooth implementation, according to Manhattan.

Kevin Richardson, commercial services director at TDG, explains: "We wanted to make use of the most efficient, cost effective and robust technologies available to maintain our high standards as a leader in the logistics management services market in Europe. We reviewed our overall solution as part of a long-standing contract for servicing ELC's logistics requirements in the U.K. and decided jointly with ELC that Manhattan Associates' Warehouse Management solution, running on IBM's eServer technology, would provide the best platform for supporting ELC's future business plans. We were particularly pleased that the project was delivered to budget and on time and we now look forward to exploiting the full potential of the Manhattan Associates solution to help us continue our strong relationship with ELC."

TDG is looking to the Manhattan solution to improve picking efficiency and accuracy in the DC, which in turn will improve product availability in ELC's stores. TDG also expects that the solution's integration with wearable radio frequency (RF) scanners from Symbol Technologies, along with its task interleaving functionality, will combine to deliver productivity improvements across the warehouse floor. It will also mean that TDG will be better equipped to manage seasonal demand fluctuations, in particular the order spikes traditionally seen during the Christmas period, according to Manhattan.

A joint Manhattan Associates, TDG and ELC project team implemented the WMS solution on schedule and within budget, Manhattan reported.

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