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Key Benefits

    -Stable logistics platform
    -Standardized functionality eVista customer self-service portal Extensive RF integration
    -Fast, precise directed putaway and picking
    -Flexible rating capabilities
    -Powerful reporting capabilities
    -Current inventory information
    -Customer service options
    -Weekend install, six discrete sites
    -Strong local partner support

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The go-live process can be intense under the best of circumstances, so consider the challenge when Accellos, Inc. implementation teams were called upon to bring up six free-standing but related temperature controlled third party logistics sites simultaneously, each with its own set of customers and requirements, over a single weekend.

A subsidiary of Cape Town-headquartered Oceana Group, CCS is the largest 3PL provider in Africa, serving importers and exporters through three freezer/controlled-temperature warehouses in the headquarters city, one in Durban, one in Johannesburg and another in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Additional facilities in Durban provide 3PL services for the storage and distribution of fresh fruits and a variety of dry goods products, but do not utilize Accellos at this stage.

CCS’ facilities incorporate both fixed and single-deep mobile racking, with about 80 percent of the space now devoted to the movable storage. According to Dowling, mobile racking affords some 50 percent more storage space in each room where it is installed. The rows of racks move in and out of position on rails, creating a single pick aisle approximately 3.3 meters wide and enabling pallet handlers to easily reach pallets individually. Communication between the warehouse floor and the Accellos software takes place using Symbol MC9090 RF guns and a Motorola wireless data network using RFS6000 and WS2000 controllers.

CCS faces a set of problems that are not unusual in its sector, domestically or internationally. These include shorter dwell times and higher volume throughput; increasing regulatory requirements, with more permits required; tighter workplace safety controls; stringent food safety oversight; and ever more focus on conservation, waste control and environmental contamination. These external factors combine with customer pressures for visibility over inventory and the associated processes as well as control over costs.

The transition to new 3PL software coincided with a technology initiative of parent Oceana Group’s standardizing on JD Edwards enterprise software across several divisions. Selected to head up the logistics software project within CCS, Dowling prepared a comprehensive Request for Quote and sent it to about 30 solution candidates.

As contract details were being concluded, Accellos was also finalizing another business arrangement, this with Johannesburg-based Dovetail Business Solutions (Pty) Ltd., a well-established developer and systems integrator with an expanding presence across Southern Africa.

Working from the RFQ and information gathered on-site, Accellos implementation specialists developed a business process review (BPR) document detailing the broad issues and how they would be addressed. Dowling and his team signed off on the document and the implementation process commenced. While each facility’s software resides on its individual Linux server, the implementation standardized CCS’ functional processes as much as possible.

The warehouse layout and bin structure had long been in place, so the mission for Accellos implementation specialists was to conform to it while also introducing the new efficiencies.

About 30 percent of CCS’ shipments are international, the balance remaining within the South Africa market. As in the receiving process, outbound orders normally arrive by email or fax, detailing product, quantities and shipping information. Orders are accepted only from the inventory owners. If a third party faxes or emails an order, CCS checks with the owner for authorization prior to fulfillment.

CCS takes a giant step forward in efficiency with the end-2011 implementation of Accellos’ web-based customer self-service portal, eVista. The company delayed implementing the portal because, as Dowling says, “. . .we wanted the system to be stable, have the security and controls in place and have the customer ask for the functionality rather than pushing it on them.”

The company maintains closer control over its customers’ inventory through Accellos’ refined cycle counting capabilities, which enable it to set up its rules by customer, by type of audits, by warehouse sectors and spaces and so on.

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