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Mike Bell, Executive VP of Operations
Duncan Industrial Solutions
Oklahoma City, OK
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PathGuide's Latitude WMS Helps Royal Products Ensure the Customer is King
Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Chris Jakubowsky found out that it is. As Vice President of Operations at Royal Products (Long Island, New York), a manufacturer of precision metalworking accessories, Jakubowsky was surprised to realize that the company's decade-long growth streak was becoming more of a curse than a blessing.
"We've had the same customers coming back to us time and time again because we get them what they want, when they need it, when we say we're going to deliver it," said Jakubowsky. "But after evaluating our systems in the mid 2000's, we found that we were falling behind with the increased demands of our customers. We needed to fix the problem, before it had a lasting impact on our business."
Poor inventory management hampered growth
As Royal Products' business expanded to processing hundreds of orders per day, keeping track of inventory and shipments became extremely challenging.
"We knew that a key barrier to further business growth and expansion was effective inventory management. Since we didn't have a fully integrated and automated system - one that could wirelessly manage all aspects of our warehouse in real time, from inventory management to picking to fulfilling - some customer orders were not being fulfilled in a timely fashion."
In fact, the simple act of finding and verifying a product was not an easy process. "If something was incorrectly put in a bin, often times workers picked it, and shipped it, thinking the customer was getting the right product," noted Jakubowsky. "As a stop-gap, we had workers manually locate and verify the contents of each bin before picking, but that just added to our overhead."
This lack of real-time inventory accuracy caused the sales team to mistrust inventory levels. "Our customer service people would sometimes request a physical count on an item to verify that what they saw on their computer screen was accurate. This resulted in a longer sales process and often delayed orders," continued Jakubowsky.
Another downside: each order had to be individually processed. There was no way to batch-pick multiple items for an order. With an inefficient system, and growing customer returns as a drag on business, the company knew it had to update its system and solve its inventory management challenge.
A WMS that automates inventory accuracy
In a move to boost customer satisfaction and ensure lean manufacturing and distribution processes, Royal Products decided to invest in a Warehouse Management System (WMS) that could deliver real-time automation to its warehouse operations. After an extensive search, Jakubowsky chose PathGuide's Latitude WMS.
Latitude WMS is a modular software suite that automates warehousing and distribution to provide real-time online information about all inventory. Latitude automates all warehouse operations from receiving and order picking, to manifesting and truck route/stop management.
"We chose PathGuide not only because they met every checkbox requirement we had, but also because they specialized solely in WMS solutions," said Jakubowsky. "Furthermore, PathGuide gave us the kind of personal, human attention that is rare these days."
That attention was reinforced during the implementation phase. Two PathGuide employees - a trainer and programmer - "embedded" themselves at Royal Products headquarters for a week. "The implementation process was as smooth as could be. I was amazed to see that in just one week, the product was launched and live, with no problems. PathGuide was there every step of the way to ensure it was a smooth, successful rollout," commented Jakubowsky.
Intuitive interface makes Latitude WMS easy to learn
Despite Jakubowsky's enthusiasm, he had the tall task of convincing warehouse workers - some of which had never used a computer before - that they would be able to easily use Latitude WMS. However, those workers' skepticism changed quickly. They found Latitude to be simple to use, laid out well and extremely intuitive.
"One of our warehouse workers is 80 years old and has lived the majority of his life without a computer. It was really cool to have him and others coming to me saying, 'How did we get by WITHOUT Latitude?' Best of all, not only was Latitude easy to use, it made our workers more productive, while improving the accuracy and timeliness of customers' orders."
Latitude WMS has minimized the time needed to pick warehouse orders. It has also reduced the time spent checking inventory levels for the buyers, and has allowed warehouse workers to implement other time-saving, inventory-maximizing processes, like real-time cycle counting, batch ordering, and more.
Cycle counting helps maintain inventory accuracy
Royal Products utilizes Latitude's Cycle Counting module on a regular basis to help maintain inventory accuracy. With Cycle Counting, schedules are easily developed to systematically verify that all item quantities are accounted for. By selecting subsets of inventory and counting them on a frequent basis, operations can continue as usual and misplaced items are quickly identified.
Guaranteed shipments improved customer service
Before Latitude WMS, Royal Products couldn't guarantee a shipment would arrive the same day unless it was made by 3:30pm. Now, they can take most orders up to 4:45pm or even later for same day delivery, and that's a substantial improvement for last-minute customers. This has resulted in a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction and a decrease in complaints. In fact, since deploying Latitude WMS in 2005, Royal Products has experienced a 67% decrease in customer complaints.
"It's been a business-changing decision to go with Latitude WMS, and it has dramatically improved both our customer service and internal efficiencies. It would be an understatement to say we're please with PathGuide... we're exhilarated," concluded Jakubowsky.
About PathGuide Technologies
PathGuide Technologies, Inc., a privately held company founded in 1989, is a leading provider of warehouse management solutions for small to midsized wholesalers and industrial distributors across North America. PathGuide's software and services help suppliers increase productivity and order accuracy, improve customer service and lower labor costs, ultimately driving greater profitability. To learn how distributors of all sizes can benefit from improved warehouse management, visit www.pathguide.com.
PathGuide is a registered trademark of PathGuide Technologies Inc. in the United States.