The Right Recipe

A big supply chain overhaul helped Nature's Best maintain its competitive advantage.


“This was a humbling process for us,” says McCarthy. “We thought we understood what we needed, but learned that we didn’t know what was right.”

After looking at several options and demonstrations, Nature’s Best selected a WMS from Manhattan Associates. “One of the reasons we chose Manhattan is that we learned that we would need to modify very little,” McCarthy says. “We also considered the initial and long-term cost of ownership.”

Phase Two

After making the WMS selection, Nature’s Best was ready to move on to a lean material flow analysis (LMFA). The company had a new greenfield site selected that would allow it to move its operations from four buildings into one.

Once again enlisting enVista’s help, Nature’s Best set out to map out the interior design of the new site, along with all of its processes. “We went deep into our analysis and processes to determine construction decisions and WMS configurations,” McCarthy explains. “We used our LMFA data to design the sizes of our freezer, cooler and dry spaces and do it in a way that would last at least five years based on sales and data forecasts.”

With design and WMS in hand, it was time to start implementation. In addition to selecting a WMS, Nature’s Best went with a labor management system, performance management system and slot management. “We choose to roll out the software in three phases, beginning with our smallest temperature zone, which is frozen, and then moving onto cooler and finally dry space,” says McCarthy.

The implementation involved the following steps:

Interface design;

Configuration;

Testing;

Training development;

Facility preparation;

Labor standards development;

Slot info implementation.

In all, the project required about 18 months to complete. “At all points in the project, we had a fully involved client,” says Gonzalez. “When you have clients this involved, it’s the best way to ensure success.”

 The Results

By all counts, the supply chain transformation and vision was a success for Nature’s Best:

Labor costs were reduced by 40 percent;

Inventory costs were reduced 10 percent;

Cube utilization in fleets improved 18 percent;

Touches were reduced 60 percent;

Merges were reduced 100 percent;

Inventory accuracy improved to a net unit variance of 99.9 percent;

Overall visibility improved;

While labor costs went down, Nature’s Best was able to maintain its current staff and eliminate the use of temps.

“We improved our on-time performance and delivery as well,” says Brian McCarthy, senior vice president of operations, Nature’s Best. “We were able to do this while maintaining our consistency of quality to our customers, one of our biggest goals. When you consider the fact that we moved 100 percent of our business to a new site and didn’t lose a single customer or disrupt our supply chain, you know that we are very happy.”

What advice would McCarthy offer others facing similar large projects? “Network, network, network,” he says. “Talk to third-party people, but also to people who have been there.”

He also advises making sure you find the right partner. “Choose a third party that has an intimacy of the industry,” he says, “as well as an intimacy of their product. Without it, you’re bringing on more than you have time for.

“Our passion is not logistics, it’s natural food products,” adds McCarthy. “The supply chain is how we get our passion to market. Now we can fulfill that passion the way we want.” —A.L.

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