Supercharging the Supply Chain

Interstate Batteries taps warehouse management solution to help drive retail initiative

White Plains, NY  June 18, 2002  Amidst the corn and soy fields of Iowa, North America's number one automotive replacement battery brand is set to use a warehouse management system (WMS) to automate fulfillment activities at its national retail distribution center.

Fifty-year-old Interstate Batteries has tapped a WMS solution from Optum called MOVE for its distribution center in Des Moines, Iowa. The company is deploying MOVE WMS, along with new MOVE Labor and MOVE Manifest applications, with goal of increasing productivity and inventory turns and driving high service levels in a cost-effective way.

Interstate Batteries is a privately held group of corporations that includes a company with 320 distributors that service more than 200,000 retail outlets throughout the United States, Canada and certain international locations. The company's sales exceed 12 million batteries per year.

Building on its success in the automotive industry, Interstate Batteries is launching an ambitious retail initiative that will make its stores, franchises and Web site a one-stop shop for the comprehensive battery needs of businesses and consumers. The company will offer an array of batteries, including for cars, laptops, cell phones, cameras and even SCUBA diving tanks.

Interstate Batteries retained Kurt Salmon Associates, a management consulting firm, to plan the distribution network for this new initiative, and to execute the plan, the company selected Optum MOVE WMS for warehouse management, J.D. Edwards for financials and GERS for point of sale technology. Using MOVE, Interstate Batteries will transition from its legacy system and paper-based, manual processes to automated, information-based best practices.

"The Optum MOVE warehouse management solution was the best product of its kind that had the ability to manage our complex business processes by providing our employees with the most efficient picking, packing and shipping tasks based on our various customer profiles," said Merv Tarde, chief information officer at Interstate Batteries.

Interstate Batteries' selection of Optum MOVE hinged on the system's ability to enable a company to take its best business processes and map a workflow of tasks based on the key components that drive those processes: the product profile, customer profile, order profile and shipping profile. Optum says that these profiling and workflow-mapping capabilities facilitate one-to-one fulfillment across a range of customers and products, keeping the complexities transparent to warehouse personnel, boosting productivity as well as inventory and shipping accuracy.

In addition to MOVE WMS, Interstate Batteries also purchased the Optum MOVE Labor and MOVE Manifest applications. MOVE Labor uses real-time data from MOVE WMS to plan inbound and outbound workloads based upon available resources in the distribution center and reports productivity, order fill rate and product velocity. MOVE Manifest is a centralized shipment execution application, managing all aspects of shipping for multiple carriers from a single system.

Interstate Batteries is deploying MOVE WMS after a successful pilot and anticipates going "live" in its central distribution center later this year. The warehouse will support its retail stores, as Interstate Batteries expands its retail focus.