Category Archives: Implementation

Competing With Giants

This feature article from the latest issue of Inbound Logistics profiles several small and medium-sized businesses that are using information technology to stay competitive with industry giants. It’s a good read and highlights an important fact about the modern warehouse industry. These days, every distributor is competing with worldwide e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba and Snapdeal. How can small and medium-sized businesses remain competitive without the resources of these huge companies? Customer service is one big differentiator, but there are also many ways that even small companies can use information technology strategically to achieve similar levels of speed, efficiency and flexibility as their bigger peers.

Here are some PathGuide customers who implemented Latitude WMS to solve specific problems and put themselves on even footing with larger industry competitors.

HUB Industrial Supply keeps up with e-retailers like Amazon and Fastenal by focusing on exceptional customer service and just-in-time delivery. After several years of strong growth, executives were concerned that HUB couldn’t keep using small-company processes as it grew into a medium-sized company. HUB chose Latitude to “future-proof” its warehouse, knowing that the WMS would easily scale with them.

Fisheries Supply, located in Seattle, Washington, relies on the local maritime industry for much of its business. They used some of the features in Latitude WMS to build its own will-call system that can have orders ready in as little as 15 minutes. Latitude WMS automatically prioritizes these orders for picking and sends the customer a text message when the order is ready. Fisheries Supply has built a loyal following among local mechanics and boat owners who depend upon this system for its quick turnaround.

One of the specific goals that Jensen Distribution Services had for implementing a WMS was to reduce training time for new employees. By replacing an outdated paper-based receiving process with a paperless one and implementing hands-free voice picking, Jensen was able to reduce weeks of training down to a matter of days, and decreased picking errors by 95%.

C-A-L Ranch, a chain of farm and ranch supply stores, had seasonal spikes in product demand that turned the distribution center floor into a bottleneck. Hiring seasonal labor was not a feasible solution, so Latitude WMS helped C-A-L Ranch be more productive with the same number of workers and get through busy periods without product piling up in the distribution center.

Phased Rollout Helps Smooth the Transition to Latitude WMS for Jensen Distribution Services

Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale hardware distributor operating in 11 western states, came to PathGuide in 2008 with a very specific set of goals. The company was strong in areas like picking, but needed to improve warehouse processes in receiving, order accuracy and training time for new employees. They needed a WMS that would improve trouble spots without interfering with productivity in other areas of the facility. The PathGuide implementation team, always ready for a challenge, got to work.

Latitude WMS was rolled out in stages, starting with receiving. This approach is common for new WMS deployments, and it allowed Jensen to adjust to each change without affecting other workflows. Implementation went forward on schedule and Jensen quickly began to see positive results in receiving speeds, organization and accuracy. Employee productivity increased and could now be tracked paper-free, using Latitude’s built-in employee metrics. As Jensen switched on Latitude’s functionality in other areas of its warehouse, it started seeing even more benefits.

Errors Dropped 95%

Jensen doesn’t offer unique products, so they compete for customers by offering exceptional customer service. Latitude helped Jensen go from a one percent error rate to 0.05 percent, which had a tremendous positive impact on customer relations. Regular updates to Latitude provide incremental improvements in accuracy each year.

Less Time Wasted on Training

Latitude also reduced the time required to train new employees and decreased their reliance on tribal knowledge. Under the old paper-based receiving system, it took new employees three to six weeks to become proficient and productive. With Latitude, it takes just days, prompting Jensen’s distribution center manager, Dennis Schutz, to say that he “never wanted to go back to paper.”

The phased rollout worked. Jensen saw great improvements in all of the areas where it wanted to improve, without significant disruption to the rest of the warehouse. In the words of Landon Horton, director of operations, “Latitude has really let us refine our business through major productivity and accuracy gains over the years. The exceptional customer service and engineering support offered by PathGuide made them an ideal technology partner, and we have total faith in their commitment to the long-term success of our business.”

Click here to see a short video highlighting the transformation to virtually error-free operations at Jensen Distribution Services.