Some 65 years ago, Budge Manufacturing Co. hand-crafted an innovative protective car cover from a shower curtain to keep dust and dirt off the owner’s new car. The cover was spotted by one of the founders of the auto supply chain, Pep Boys, which began to offer the new product at their stores. From this beginning, Budge went on to build a thriving business and today, Budge Industries LLC operates well beyond the automotive market, dominating its market niche and distributing its products internationally via retail, catalog and online stores as well as delivering a host of OEM applications.
Headquartered in Lansdale, Pa., Budge Industries manufactures both domestically and overseas. The company serves a customer base of more than 25,000 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada, including such high volume outlets as Wal-Mart, AutoZone, O'Reilly Auto Parts and CarQuest (all EDI-enabled). Warehousing and fulfillment operations are located in Henderson, Ky. where the company occupies three detached buildings totaling about 75,000 square feet and manned by a staff of about 35 workers.
To keep pace with growing volume and evolving market conditions, the company adopted an innovative technology solution that seamlessly integrates the AccellosOne Warehouse Management System, Edisoft electronic transaction software and ICINITI Web store software with each other and with the company’s Sage AccPac ERP system. Doing so would also allow Budge to clean up the flow of data; speed up and simplify order fulfillment, eliminate redundancies; and slash the operating costs associated with order fulfillment.
The EDI solution and the Web store—two of the three components—have been in place at Budge for several years, while Accellos One Warehouse went live in the spring of 2011. Besides the high-level functionality of the primary solution components, a unique advantage of the integration is that it is structured for configuration versus customization. Users simply go through checklists to select the functionality they need.
Budge acquired the Edisoft EDI solution in the early 2000s to streamline the exchange of EDI documents with about 12 high-volume retail and OEM trading partners. Edisoft’s Merchant platform ensures complete EDI communication, translation and integration between a company and its trading partners. Its Visual ASN module can establish a virtual order fulfillment process that culminates in the creation of both compliant X.12 856 advance ship notices and the printing of GS1 shipping compliant labels; in combination with Edisoft’s Business Exchange value-added network (VAN), which provides robust and secure communications.
AccellosOne Warehouse establishes reliable, error-free warehouse processes including precise receiving and putaway; inventory management; and order fulfillment. It employs a radio frequency network and RF/barcode devices to track the management of product door-to-door—automating, streamlining and verifying all related processes including product assembly from components in stock.
Tom Bagby, Vice President of Operations for Budge Industries, estimates that the Henderson facilities house up to 500 pickable SKUs, with perhaps four times that amount of product also on hand in the form of raw materials; finished goods in need of re-pack or other further handling; and partial assemblies with finishing requirements. Bin locations within the three warehouse/assembly buildings carry bar codes. Thus, in implementing the WMS, the integration team replicated the warehouse layout details in the software to facilitate fulfillment and inventory control.
New stock is trucked in to the Henderson facilities daily. The Accellos WMS’ flexibility allows Budge to store product via directed putaway, with instructions provided by the software to lift truck drivers equipped with the handheld RF devices; assigned putaway, with certain bin areas reserved for specific categories of product; and random putaway, with drivers accessing unassigned empty bins and forwarding the bin locations to the database.
Arriving EDI orders are translated to AccPac-readable ERP data format and are posted to the ERP system’s sales order entry module, after which they are synchronized in real-time with the Accellos software. Similarly, orders arriving through the ICINITI Web store and the various associated Websites are directed to the ERP Web order entry module and scheduled for fulfillment in the warehouse software. Some orders arrive via traditional means such as fax and phone and are entered manually to the AccPac software and relayed to the floor.
Where previously Edisoft’s Visual ASN module would perform a virtual pick/pack/ship process, all of this activity is now performed by AccellosOne Warehouse. Pickers scan barcodes on downloaded pick sheets, move to the pick locations, remove the merchandise and proceed to the packing and shipping station.
“Orders download from AccPac to the Accellos software with the shipping information included,” said Carl Davies, IT Director for Accellos. “Once the orders have been picked, packed and shipped, the shipping information is uploaded to AccPac for invoicing and customer notification. The same information uploads directly from AccellosOne Warehouse to Edisoft Visual ASN for preparation of the Advance Ship Notice to EDI-enabled customers.”
Results and projections
The new workflow approach will affect dramatic improvements in the company’s warehouse and business management operations by eliminating the remaining manual activity associated with the processing of customer orders, while also eliminating the time-consuming and labor-intensive data entry associated with maintaining redundant databases.
Physical warehouse operations are faster and the opportunity for fulfillment error has been virtually eliminated. Additionally, billing and collection data flows seamlessly across the components of the integrated software system, simplifying and accelerating the billing process.
Eyeing the future with optimism, Budge projects that shipment volumes will more than double in the near term but with little or no increase in the size of the fulfillment staff.