With operations in 60 countries, KPSS was looking for new a warehouse system that could be deployed throughout its network, resulting in standardized processes and improved service to customers, says Brian Hatfield, vice president of supply chain.
KPSS Inc. sells hair care and coloring products to professional salons. Its market spreads over 60 countries and some 100,000 customers. The company has about 5,000 SKUs, many of them differentiated by language, with a 48-hour time span from order to delivery.
In adopting new technology for the warehouse, the company's initial business goals were to save money and improve the quality of customer service, Hatfield says. The system it acquired had to provide a return on investment within a single year. KPSS chose a voice-directed picking and replenishment system from Vocollect, which it had seen in use by a distributor partner in Germany.
Hatfield says the company experienced a significant improvement in picking accuracy with the use of the new system. Within the year, it had seen a full payback and efficiency gains of more than 20 percent.
The acquisition was part of a larger effort by the decentralized company to standardize operations around the world. It sought to impose a single set of key performance indicators to boost service quality at all locations. "We needed technology to build a template and implement it," says Hatfield.
KPSS began the implementation of voice technology at a distribution facility in California, later extending it to Toronto, Ont. The United Kingdom was next, with plans to install in Australia and Finland in 2011. Hatfield says the project caused no disruption in operations, and didn't require any new infrastructure to implement.
Flipping the switch on a new material-handling system can be risky, but KPSS prepared extensively for the moment, training employees and ensuring that it had the right equipment in place. As a result, Hatfield says, the system was fully up and running within two days.
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