Sturm Foods manufactures dry goods such as oatmeal and drink mixes. In March 2007, Wal-Mart informed Sturm that rather than continuing to order pallets of products as it had been, it would begin ordering smaller quantities more frequently. Sturm needed to transition from picking orders by pallets in its DC to picking and shipping by cases.
Prior to Wal-Mart's demand, Sturm used a manual process in its DC. As an order was sent to the DC, the supervisor would assign two employees to handpick the order using a paper pick ticket. Using a forklift, the employees would pick the pallets listed on the order and cross the products off as they were picked. "On a pallet basis, our manual process was efficient," says Glen Bunnell, IT manager at Sturm Foods. "However, we quickly determined that on a case-by-case basis, the manual process wasn't going to cut it." Sturm experienced inventory discrepancies in the short time it used the manual process for case picking, due to misplaced inventory, the lack of validation measures, and the overall room for error innate in using paper orders.
To eliminate the inventory discrepancies and with the desire to increase the overall efficiency of the DC, Sturm began implementation of an automated warehouse management system. As a part of the new solution, Sturm wanted to find forklift-mounted tablet PCs that would wirelessly connect with the WMS to streamline the case-by-case picking process. Due to the conditions of the DC, Sturm needed to find a rugged unit. The DC can get very hot in the summer and cold in the winter, and the computer units would be bumped, dropped, or shaken.
Source: Integrated Solutions, http://www.integratedsolutionsmag.com
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