2005 Supply & Demand Chain 100 Case Study  Restaurant Equippers / HighJump Software

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: A food service equipment dealer gets a big boost in shipping accuracy and labor efficiency by installing a new WMS

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: A food service equipment dealer gets a big boost in shipping accuracy and labor efficiency by installing a new WMS

Company: Restaurant Equippers (Columbus, OH)
Company Size: Small
Company Sector: Distribution/Wholesale
Area(s) of Enablement: Fulfillment/Logistics, Supply Chain Integration & Infrastructure
Enabler: HighJump Software (Eden Prairie, MN)

SDCE 100 2005Case Study: Restaurant Equippers is a large food service equipment and supply dealer in the United States. Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, the company sells products through its store, direct sales force, catalog and Web site. Its 6,000-plus SKUs comprise everything from silverware to freezers — and, yes, even the kitchen sink.

The company was growing, and this growth meant higher volumes. After several moves to larger warehouses, the company needed to find an automated way of managing its supply chain. Especially important was need to get reporting, queries and analytical processing. And shipping accuracy was its number one issue because returns were costly and negatively impacted customer service, which is extremely important for RE.

"If you ship the wrong item to a customer, how do you put a dollar amount on what's been lost?" says Roger Wadsworth, chief operating officer at the company. "We were using paper pick tickets and had an error rate of 7 percent. You don't have to go to business school to figure out that's not a good long-term strategy for running your business."

Big Enough for WMS?

As the company surveyed the warehouse management system (WMS) market, Wadsworth initially questioned whether a firm the size of Restaurant Equippers could afford a best-of-breed WMS. This was because the company was enjoying a surge in demand for products yet struggled with the complexities of shipping varied orders on time and accurately. Additional priorities for Wadsworth included easy integration with existing business systems and pulling off an implementation that didn't bring distribution to a halt.

Ultimately, Restaurant Equippers selected a solution from HighJump Software, a 3M company, to run its distribution center (DC). Wadsworth says that he was impressed with HighJump as a company and the ability of its Warehouse Advantage WMS solution to report on warehouse activities. Vendor viability and long-term relationship potential were also factors. "We thought HighJump would be around tomorrow and was a leader in the industry. Over the years, HighJump has stayed ahead of the curve with its R&D investment," he says.

Restaurant Equippers standardized all its technology components on Microsoft SQL Server and integrated Warehouse Advantage with the company's Microsoft Business Solutions-Great Plains enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The three-month implementation of the WMS went smoothly, according to Wadsworth. "We met the goal with no showstoppers," he says.

The Other Half of the Picture

Warehouse Advantage automates the operation from receiving and put-away to picking, packing and shipping. Great Plains sends orders to Warehouse Advantage for optimization and distribution to workers via radio frequency (RF) devices. After Warehouse Advantage verifies successful completion of the pick/pack/ship process, the system notifies Great Plains that the order is complete.

Warehouse Advantage's load audit function verifies final contents, and then Great Plains converts the order to an invoice to help ensure customers receive and are billed for exactly what they requested. Along the way, Restaurant Equippers uses Warehouse Advantage to create serialized labels for large equipment items to help with warranty tracking and recalls.

Restaurant Equippers also uses HighJump's Advantage Dashboard management visibility solution to generate employee and company performance metrics. Wadsworth feels that it is essential to give feedback to help people improve in their daily activities. "Most people look at how business processes occur. That's only half the picture. Management tools are the other half: what information is available for feedback." Wadsworth also uses Advantage Dashboard's reporting capabilities. "It's important to get historical metrics to plan for future growth. You can increase staff if you see orders will be growing, or if they're not getting out the door on time."

In addition, to plan how they pick, in waves, Restaurant Equippers implemented HighJump's Advantage Fulfillment Optimizer wave planning solution. The solution groups and assigns orders based on common profiles (i.e., item size or shipping method) to streamline picking.

Working Smarter

Today, shipping accuracy is above 99 percent. "Now our customers have confidence that what they order is what they'll receive," says Wadsworth. "There is no way we would have this kind of efficiency without Warehouse Advantage."

Restaurant Equippers also been able to condense its previously 24-hour operations into a single daytime shift. Labor efficiencies have been evident since implementation, especially after the addition of Advantage Fulfillment Optimizer. "Efficiency gains with Advantage Fulfillment Optimizer have been unbelievable," Wadsworth says. "We cut our picking time by two-thirds."

The company has upgraded its WMS system by themselves twice, and each upgrade lasted just two hours, over the lunch hour. Currently, RE is looking to improve the packing and shipping process through HighJump's Container Advantage cartonization solution, which, Restaurant Equippers believes, will help optimize the container packing process and reduce costs.

Wadsworth continues: "The real payoff of the HighJump system isn't just that you can run your distribution center better. It's that you have a wealth of information you can use to better your whole business. Sometimes the biggest payoffs are in areas you can't measure." He adds that it's not always about clobbering the competition. "Companies win because they do just a little better. Work a little smarter. It's that simple. Warehouse Advantage helps us do that."

For more stories of successful supply chain implementations, read the "2005 Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100" article in the June/July 2005 issue of the magazine. Also watch the Today's Headlines section of SDCExec.com every Tuesday and Thursday for more in depth best practices drawn from this year's Supply & Demand Chain Executive 100.