How to Set Up an Inventory Tracking System
Suppose you are operating a small business and you haven’t…
“We are talking about a massive inventory! As an example, just in our Texas warehouse we have 6 million of a single axle in inventory. With over 10,000 parts and 1.5 million possible combinations, we had to have a solution with proven experience with that type of volume.”
GENERAL MANAGER, DURABLE SUPERIOR CASTER, INC.
With an extensive inventory and a manual inventory management system in place, the company had many inefficiencies that led to not knowing what was available and when.
Instead of manual inventory every two months, the company now conducts random inventory audits. A .07% discrepancy in a row of 800 bins is a priceless improvement in accuracy.
Durable Superior Casters, INC. is one of the leading business-to-business caster and wheel companies in North America, producing over 380,000 caster types for almost every application and industry. With five warehouse locations totaling 750,000 square feet, and over 10,000 parts, the company needed to automate their manual, spreadsheet-based inventory management process to gain efficiencies in the warehouse and sales process.
With 24,000 bins in the company’s Texas headquarters alone, which was all tracked by hand, the company’s primary issue was knowing what they had to sell when they needed to sell it. They were also challenged with supply chain management. Parts were coming from overseas, then assembled in the United States. They needed to know well in advance what they had and didn’t have so they could order parts, have them made, shipped, and get the parts assembled in time to get the orders out.
On a hunch in 2009, the company owner decided to buck the trend of just-in-time inventory and went the opposite direction. The company expanded their infrastructure to house large quantities of inventory. Before they could explore replacing their old school spreadsheet system, that hunch paid off.
According to Steven Twining, General Manager at Durable Superior Casters, “As our infrastructure and inventory expansion plan was wrapping up, our owners’ theory proved to be accurate, and the recession hit. Between 2009 and 2015, we were one of the few companies that had products and could still fill orders. We made giant gains during that time, but we were so busy with just trying to keep up with orders, we never had time to look at replacing our manual inventory system. It became obvious that if we wanted to go to the next level—from a mid-tier to an upper mid-tier level—we needed to make large-scale changes to our platforms to make us much more efficient and accurate in what we were doing.”
As business started to level out, Durable Superior Casters began to look at Warehouse Management Solutions, and one name kept coming up—Scanco. There were two main points Durable Superior Casters was considering in selecting a solution. The first was prior volume experience. Durable Superior Casters needed to know that the company selected had at least 4-5 installations with similar inventory volume and that it worked well for those clients. The second was integration into Sage. Durable Superior Casters had not been utilizing Sage’s full potential. They had other stand-alone software programs that were doing work that Sage already had integrated. Durable Superior Casters needed to make sure they got everything they needed in a one-stop shop to realize the full potential of the efficiency goals. That really narrowed down the field for barcoding and inventory solutions. Scanco ticked all the boxes and there was a gradual realization that Scanco was the only company and solution that was prepared and could handle the volume Durable Superior Casters was dealing with.
Steven admittedly didn’t know much about the Sage 100 system, so when faced with implementing Scanco, it forced him to dig into what Sage could do and how the systems together could work for Durable Superior Casters. Steven stated, “I truly had to learn the nuts and bolts of the system. By stripping it down to its foundation then building it up to what we needed, we made it all work for us. It ended up being a silver lining. I can say that we would not have been able to grow to where we are now without going through that process.”
Durable Superior Casters had other implementation woes that were internal issues, not Scanco’s—but Scanco helped Durable Superior Casters through them. Steven added, “Scanco worked with us in every way and went well above and beyond many times. For an implementation of our size, most software companies would have asked us to shut down the warehouse for a week. We didn’t have that option—nor did they ever suggest it. Our warehouse rolls 14 hours a day, 6 days a week and Scanco was great about working with us around that schedule, with full production going on.”
While it’s difficult to provide hard, measurable results attributed to implementing Scanco, Durable Superior Casters can point to increased sales because they now know what is on their shelves. However, the biggest impact was overall efficiency. When looking for material in a 300,000 square foot warehouse, knowing exactly where you are going before you turn the key in the forklift is immeasurable. Steven stated, “We used to take inventory every two months by hand. That included five warehouses and 750,000 square feet of inventory, using a spreadsheet. Now, we just do random audits. In a row of 800 bins, our last audit showed a .07% discrepancy. The improved accuracy is priceless.”
The system is also extremely easy to train and use. Durable Superior Casters has team members for whom English is their second language, yet the system is so simple, they were able to pick up a handheld and, within a 10-15 minute training session, take off and go use it.
Now that Durable Superior Casters has achieved stabilization of the actual inventory numbers, has capitalized on scale efficiencies, and has years of mapping and learning how the system can work for them, they are at a point where the computer can take over some of the mapping, managing, and directing. They are excited to take advantage of the Scanco engine with features such as wave picking, wave putting, directed pick, and directed put away.
Steven concluded, “Scanco is amazing to work with—they have a great solution, a great team, and work very hard to accommodate their customers. I love working with them. We are on their maintenance plan, so access to help is virtually instant when I need it. But they often go above and beyond and will happily connect me with people who aren’t normally available to end users. You can’t beat their level of service!”
We understand there’s not a “one-solution fits all” option for complex distribution and manufacturing operations. We want to learn more about your business and understand the challenges that you are looking to overcome.
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