Toledo, Ohio-based Impact Products (Impact), a leading manufacturer and supplier of non-chemical commercial cleaning, maintenance, and safety products, encountered a challenge that many organizations face: transitioning from paper-based to automated digital systems to manage their distribution environment and ongoing growth. Impact’s legacy paper-based system did not support real-time warehouse transactions, which meant that operations were labor intensive, error prone, and ultimately a barrier to growth. Having grown significantly and consistently over time, the company had expanded its original facility by adding two more to accommodate this progress, but did not want to move the business to facilitate further growth. Instead, by employing a warehouse management system (WMS), they expanded operations into multiple shifts, as well as improved and automated warehouse processes.
After an extensive evaluation process, Impact determined to work with Interlink Technologies to implement a solution. Interlink’s WMS 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 critical to make the hardware selection, which uses Zebra’s Workabout Pro 4 (WAP4) mobile computers as a core component.
Impact employs WAP4 for all functional areas of the warehouse: receiving products onto pallets, picking products for orders, building shipping pallets, and managing inventory. WAP4 enables the full functionality of Warehouse-LINK®, and the combination has proven extremely effective at Impact. In fact, the real-time processing of transactions within Warehouse-LINK® has had immediate and far-reaching effects on distribution operations:
- Management decision-making is both faster and better as a result of visibility across all operations.
- The transition to multiple shift operation went smoothly and seamlessly.
- The non-value-added activities that were part of the former system performance were eliminated.
- Order-processing volumes were increased by 13 percent while driving down warehouse labor by 17 percent.
Easy to Use, Easy to Adapt
Impact personnel have found Zebra WAP4 computers simple to use, ergonomic, and easy to read regardless of location because of the computer’s extra bright display. From a management perspective, the product’s modular design allows the company to have the features they need in a platform that allows upgrading to new features by simply switching modules on-site in a matter of minutes. This protects the value of the investment while providing the agility needed to respond to change and meet the demands of future growth.
"This is a right-sized, right-priced, functionally good device that is ideal for most warehouse environments," says Gary Paulsen, project manager at Interlink. "At Impact Products, its use with Warehouse-LINK® has provided exactly the kind of impact the company was looking for to maintain—and extend—its strong, profitable position in the market."
By Marty Weil (For more information about Marty, visit: http://martyweil.net/)