2005 Supply & Demand Chain 100 Case Study  Ocean Spray / Symbol Technologies

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: The juice maker turns to auto-ID technologies to meet customers' just-in-time delivery and lead time requirements

Profiles in Supply Chain Enablement: The juice maker turns to auto-ID technologies to meet customers' just-in-time delivery and lead time requirements

Company: Ocean Spray (Lakeville-Middleboro, MA)
Company Size: Large
Company Sector: CPG (Food)
Area(s) of Enablement: Order/Demand Capture, Sourcing, Fulfillment/Logistics, Customer Relationship Management, Product Lifecycle Management, Supply Chain Integration & Infrastructure
Enabler: Symbol Technologies (Holtsville, NY)

SDCE 100 2005Case Study: When grocery industry dynamics changed, Ocean Spray's customers began demanding just-in-time deliveries, placing smaller orders and providing much shorter lead times. Ocean Spray was forced to respond, turning to solutions from Symbol Technologies as part of an initiative to maintain its reputation for innovation and leadership in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace.

This was no simple task in a warehouse using paper-based, manual procedures to fill some 1,200 orders per day. The "map" used for picking orders was essentially a list compiled by two individuals who physically walked through the warehouse looking for the oldest inventories. At any time, inventory information could be 24-48 hours old.

"With up to 1,200 orders to fill per day, Ocean Spray needed an automated data collection system that enabled product traceability and stock rotation, with reduced storage needs," said Russ McCabe, CEO of Applied Tactical Systems (ATS), which collaborated with Symbol Technologies to provide a solution to Ocean Sprays supply chain challenge.

The Solution

To address its supply chain pain point, Ocean Spray deployed bar codes, scanners and a local area network from Symbol Technologies and Applied Tactical Systems (ATS). Symbol's mobile computing devices, Spectrum 24 wireless local area network and long-range scanners were combined with the ATS warehouse management software to form a solution for Ocean Spray. Forklift drivers use Symbol VRC 6940 vehicle-mounted terminals with attached Symbol LS-3200ER long-range scanner.

Location labels, which hang from the warehouse ceiling, can be scanned at a range of 25-30 feet. Information is communicated via the Spectrum 24 LAN to the warehouse's server, where it is analyzed by ATS software running on a Windows NT Server, with an SQL Server database.

Today, when a new supply of product arrives at the loading dock, bar codes identifying the contents of each box are scanned and the forklift driver is immediately directed to the appropriate warehouse location for storage. This information is immediately relayed to the ATS software on the SQL Server database for processing.

The New Process

The resulting solution enables product traceability for each of 250 products. First-in/first-out inventory management has now been achieved for all products in the warehouse. Customer orders are downloaded directly from Ocean Spray's server in Middleboro, Mass. To fulfill the order, the warehouse system, driven by the ATS software, directs the forklift operator to the correct location, ensuring that the oldest product is picked first.

At the shipping door, the barcode is scanned and the inventory is adjusted immediately. In addition, the system automatically generates a pack list and bill of lading. Confirmations of items picked and shipped are then sent to the SQL database for invoicing.

ATS software manages the inventory, holds the data, tracks where each batch of product is located in the warehouse and reports, using a land line, to the company's server in Middleboro, Mass.

The Results

"We track the entire life cycle of the product, from production to the warehouse to the supermarket. Lot history and traceability data is available on a real-time basis," said McCabe.

As a result of the new solution being in place, costs declined substantially and productivity increased. The warehouse shipped 1.8 million more cases with 2,200 fewer man hours, and productivity per warehouse worker rose from 451 cases per hour to 551.
Mis-shipment expenses fell dramatically, and inventory accuracy reached better than 98 percent, while inventory levels declined by 121,000 cases.

Finally, Ocean Spray has seen another significant advantage; customers are happier, enjoying better service, fresher product and fewer order errors.

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.