CASE STUDY IMPACT PRODUCTS
Impact Products, LLC, based in Toledo, Ohio, is a leading international marketer of branded and private-label non-chemical commercial cleaning, maintenance and safety products. Impact's comprehensive bundle of products includes a full line of microfiber, cleaning/dusting/mopping equipment, receptacles, washroom, dispensing, material handling, gloves, and safety products. Impact utilizes multiple channels of distribution to reach the end user in the sanitary maintenance, foodservice, safety and industrial markets.
The distribution facility operated in a paper driven environment. Warehouse transactions were not real-time. Although effective in the present scope of business activity, this lack of real-time transaction was labor intensive, prone to error and inhibited multi-shift operations. Impact's rate of growth would necessitate expansion into additional shifts. Impact had expanded the facility with two additions to the original building prior to this latest growth and did not want to move the business but still needed to facilitate growth. Impact decided improving and automating the warehouse processes with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) would allow for continued growth in the existing facility.
The WMS evaluation process was led by the Vice President of Operations and a team comprised of the Vice President of Finance and the IT Manager. The initial step involved determining the process workflow of the current operations. This was a crucial step. Once these processes were documented and analyzed, critical process elements were targeted for improvement. Next, a detailed request for quotation (RFQ) was developed. This RFQ contained specific system functions the new WMS would need to meet in order to satisfy Impact's requirements.
INTERLINK'S Warehouse-LINK® SOLUTION
Based on RFQ feedback from prospective WMS suppliers, four vendors were selected for on-site demonstrations and customer visits. During the due diligence phase, evaluating the prospective vendor's company culture and compatibility of future working relationships was also a key criteria. "Interlink Technologies was selected based on Interlink's ability to meet our functional requirements and stay within our budget allowance," said Brian Paul, Vice President of Operations at Impact Products.
Interlink's software, Warehouse-LINK®, manages warehouse operations through the use of desktop applications and Radio Frequency (RF) devices. Interlink's knowledge of wireless technology and RF devices was very valuable with the hardware selection. Impact equipped the warehouse with Psion Teklogix WorkAboutPro Hand-Held Terminals, Motorola Wearable Terminals (now owned by Zebra Technologies) and Psion Teklogix Vehicle Mount Terminals on the forklifts. Datalogic Scanners and Zebra Barcode Printers were also purchased.
Order processing requires understanding each customer's specific order requirement in addition to picking product. Interlink developed an order planning function, which enables the user to quickly organize order information in a user customized format. This process affords the user the ability to plan over a future time horizon, direct pick location replenishment and release order processing by individual pick modules - all at the click of a mouse. Selectively processing order requirements optimizes labor efficiency.
Other key features of the Warehouse-LINK® software include demand-based replenishment of pick locations, dynamic replenishment profiling and RF picked item verification. Interlink also enabled software integration with an in-line/in-motion carton weighing system and small package bundling system.
During the testing phase, warehouse and production planning management were assigned specific areas of the WMS. Progressively, key team members were integrated into the process. During the final phase of testing, group training sessions were held with remaining team members. Interlink provided timely and effective system training. Specific warehouse tasks were quickly learned in a matter of minutes versus days in the former system due to the RF direction. Users were no longer required to read a paper order to understand requirements.
"Our partnership with Interlink has enabled growth and efficiency that we would not have otherwise been able to accomplish." Brian Paul
Vice President of Operations
The most immediate improvement was the real time processing of transactions within Warehouse-LINK®. The visibility to the entire operation by the management staff has significantly reduced decision making time. Some process decisions were not made in the past because of a lack of awareness. The management team is now in more control of the order process and shipping. The shipping team can now see all order details and status of each item throughout the picking process.
The ability to seamlessly transition to a multiple shift operation is another significant key feature. Warehouse-LINK® software has eliminated non-value added activities from the legacy system. This resulted in a 17% reduction in warehouse labor. Recent order processing volumes have increased 13% over the same period in the previous year. Terry Neal, President of Impact Products, LLC, commented, "We are very pleased with the results of the Warehouse-LINK® installation. The team at Interlink is very accommodating and knowledgeable. Their support is excellent and warehouse operations have never been smoother than with the Warehouse-LINK® system."
By providing real time solutions to warehousing and order processing, Interlink's Warehouse-LINK® WMS will enable Impact to meet the challenges of growth by more efficiently utilizing physical assets such as shipping docks, pick modules and warehouse equipment. Impact is able to seamlessly transition into multi-shift order processing with the same efficiency as a single shift primarily due to integrated demand based replenishment. The order process is dynamic and continuous and no longer a batch process. "We are very pleased with the results we have been able to accomplish with Interlink," stated Paul. "Our partnership with Interlink has enabled growth and efficiency that we would not have otherwise been able to accomplish."
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IMPACT PRODUCTS
Impact has expanded and restructured its distribution facility over the past 9 years to become a state of the art warehouse and distribution system; all done with customer satisfaction in mind. In addition to the Warehouse-LINK® WMS, Impact uses Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) Structure, with wire guided systems. Aisles are 66 inches wide compared to the average 10 to 12 foot aisle. These changes have resulted in improved cube utilization while providing a safer work environment.
At Impact, "we live what we sell" by not only selling safety products and services, but by incorporating safe work practices in our own facilities. Impact's "STOP for Safety" program from Dupont, has resulted in a workplace free of injuries for over two years and recently receiving an award from the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio. To contact Impact Products, please visit www.impact-products.com or call 419.841.2891.