“HighJump Collect has enabled us to establish a “cradle-to-grave‘ process, it is easier, more efficient and has vastly improved our operations.” -Doug Spieth, IT Director
Tippmann Sports was looking at closure in the mid-1980s in response to public outrage over the attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan. The company manufactured collectible half-scale machine guns, and it stood to be regulated out of business. But spotting a trend, founder Dennis Tippmann, Sr. redirected the company towards an emerging new sport: paintball, where players barrage one another with paint-filled pellets launched from CO2 or compressed air guns called markers.
Located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Tippmann Pneumatics became Tippmann Sports in 2004 when the Tippmann family sold the company’s paintball business to a private investment group. IT Director Doug Spieth estimates the size of today’s paintball market at $350-400 million, and Tippmann Sports reigns as the industry leader. It manufactures and markets a broad selection of automatic and semi-automatic marker models, modification options, accessories such as barrels, grips and loaders, paint grenades and even a line of apparel and gear.
The company’s warehouse operations are basic, utilizing lift trucks to collect and deliver raw materials to the manufacturing floor, skids of finished products from manufacturing to storage, and customer orders to the staging area for shipment. Since 1999, the company has used Microsoft Dynamics GP (initially Great Plains Software) as its enterprise resource planning solution, executing the flow of components and finished goods manually through the system’s inventory management module.
Two Stocking Points
Tippmann normally manufactures from 1,500 to 2,000 markers per day, each of which has about 150 raw components that range from bolts and screws to injection-molded plastic parts. Only about five percent of the components are manufactured internally. On arrival at the dock the hundreds of parts typically were staged, counted and compared with the packing slip. The invoice would go to accounts payable and the shipment would be keyed in to the ERP software.
The HighJump Collect solution utilizes Psion-Teklogix Workabout Pro hand computers to communicate with Microsoft Dynamics over an RF network. Functionality begins with the receipt of raw materials and components. Data is gathered, exchanged and transmitted to and from the ERP software each time either raw material or finished goods are touched.
Productivity and ROI
Tippmann actually increased productivity with fewer personnel after implementing HighJump Collect. In 2005, for example, the company shipped an average of 180 orders representing a total of 650 lines picked per day. This number peaked in 2006 at 217 orders and 806 lines per day. Despite a modest industry fall-off commencing in 2007, the numbers for the year again showed and average of 217 orders, but an increase to 912 lines representing an expanded number of SKUs and more different SKUs per order. The efficiency increase relates directly to the newly automated procedures, Spieth says.
“We are satisfied that we paid for our HighJump Collect solution in one year or less,” Spieth says. “We needed faster, more accurate inventory accounting and control, the ability to move multiple units as a single transaction, and more efficient support for our manufacturing operations.
“HighJump Collect allowed us to get rid of paper forms and screen-based processes and take full advantage of the capabilities of our Microsoft Dynamics GP software. We’re now 99 percent accurate, we can identify and solve problems quickly, and we can conduct transactions between manufacturing and the warehouse in real time.”
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