It was 1995 and the diversification plan the Nova Scotia industrial battery company had put in place two years earlier to address the consumer market wasn’t working. The head of the company concluded that the ﬁrm should spin off the unit and stick to its roots. The company’s young vice president for Canadian sales saw a business opportunity, bought the division and began implementing products and strategies to make it grow and succeed.
FACILITIES AND FUNCTIONS
Stenek operates two warehouse shifts daily in a well-organized facility of more than 26,000 square feet, with 24-foot high racking, 19 rows, and 72-inch aisle widths to accommodate its wire-guided stock pickers and turret trucks. The stock pickers feature on-board RF-enabled computers as well as Bluetooth-enabled scanners; receiving/putaway personnel employ both wireless-enabled handhelds and the Bluetooth scanners. Product resides in some 17,000 bin locations, with overstock held in high racks until letdown.
The technology turnaround commenced in 2007 when management decided that it was necessary to eliminate nagging technology problems that sometimes distracted from the company’s core mission. The company’s operations were then managed using a 14-year-old, home-grown ERP solution that had been built on the Microsoft Windows operating system.
IMPLEMENTATION AND OPERATION
“Group Createch did a great job implementing HighJump WMS and I would use them any time,” Patriquin says. “In the warehouse, SAP doesn’t exist…the marriage of the two systems has been ideal.”
Purchase orders for stock are transmitted to North American importers and manufacturers via auto email. While in the company’s earlier stages the bulk of the products Stenek distributed was manufactured in North America, most is now produced in Asia, with experience revealing instances of inaccuracy in case contents virtually on a weekly basis – a situation the company copes with handily in the new software environment.
PICKING AND SHIPPING
Picking follows a similar procedure, but in reverse. When orders are received by SAP, they are checked against the Business Partner Catalog and downloaded within minutes to HighJump WMS, which creates a directed move and triggers letdown from overstock for ﬁll-bin or direct picking. A second let-down ties the new orders to their pick locations. And where previously orders were picked one at a time, HighJump now allows order picker drivers to work on as many as 20 at a time -- usually just one or a few lines each.
Prior to implementation of the SAP-HighJump combination, Stenek required three shifts, with productivity normally standing at 200-300 lines per shift. Fill rates were as low as 80 percent, resulting in signiﬁcant loss of sales opportunities; orders were picked individually, limiting productivity and efﬁciency and impacting operating costs. Errors were frequent enough that management spent some 10 percent of their time on customer service.
Stenek opened a second distribution center, in Calgary, Alberta, in mid-2011, with initial order sizes from Western customers allowing use of the SAP Pick and Pack module. Meanwhile, the company began setting up HighJump WMS multi-location application with the assistance of one of HighJump partner Axis Global Partners. Completion and “go-live” were projected for August, 2012. All servers and applications will be housed in Amherst, with no further overhead incurred for network management. Atlantic and Ontario customers will continue to be serviced from the Amherst DC; Alberta and BC customers from the Calgary DC.
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