Grocery DC Goes Wireless

ES3 deploys wireless locating system to optimize yard operations at distribution center

Santa Clara, CA  July 23, 2002  Grocery distributor ES3 has adopted a wireless real-time locating system (RTLS) from WhereNet in a bid to reduce costs and increase new revenue opportunities.

WhereNet is helping ES3 automate its distribution center in York, Pa., enabling just-in-time delivery. WhereNet is providing ES3 with wireless, real-time applications for locating, tracking and managing hundreds of assets at ES3's state-of-the-art distribution center.

WhereNet's solution offers ES3 wireless resource management tools for planning, scheduling and optimizing its yard resources. Based on wireless radio frequency "WhereTags" and a local infrastructure of wireless "WhereLAN" locating access points, the WhereNet system provides real-time location and status information for every trailer at the ES3 distribution center.

For inbound shipments, ES3 personnel temporarily attach a WhereTag to every trailer upon entering the distribution center. Through association of the WhereTag with the contents of the load, the trailer is automatically recognized as "full" or "empty." This status information is then communicated through WhereNet's Web-enabled yard management system (YMS).

Because of the delivery time promised to retailers, trailers need to be tightly scheduled so that there is no time wasted moving the right trailer to the right dock door at the right time. The WhereNet solution communicates trailer move requests to "switchers" (drivers who move trailers around the yard) via ruggedized mobile devices mounted inside each switch tractor.

Switchers are able to select and work requests, display the exact locations of requested trailers on a map and perform trailer inspections through WhereNet software that runs through a browser on the mobile devices. When a new trailer move is required, the WhereNet system not only displays the location of the specific trailer to be moved, but also the location of the switcher who is closest to that particular trailer.

WhereNet said this constant connectivity to and real-time visibility of mobile assets reduces search and switch time for ES3, amounting to daily savings, increased yard throughput and improved customer satisfaction.

"By leveraging the WhereNet wireless system, together with our other systems, we are able to move product more efficiently than ever before, whether it's a truckload of dog food or a pallet of soup, achieving cost reductions," said Geoff Davis, executive vice president of ES3. "Through WhereNet's yard management software and wireless location applications, we can optimize every yard move we make from the moment a trailer enters our distribution center."