Jake's Finest Moment

Solutions in new facility will help this foodservice distributor save $4.6 million over the next five years.


According to Atlet, the Tempo can cut pick paths in half by allowing distributors to pick faster moving product at a higher level. The cab rises 37 and a half inches, allowing the operator to safely and easily reach products that cannot be moved with a typical pallet jack. The typical driver spends about 80 percent of his time traveling and only 20 percent actually handling cases—averaging out to 72 cases per hour. The Tempo can bring this up to 216 cases per hour by allowing drivers to drastically shorten their pick packs. At Jake’s, the best selector is now pulling 240 cases per hour—up from 180 cases at the old facility.

“And those numbers keep going up. We were able to reduce our staff from 14 order selectors at the old facility to eight here,” says Page.

The solution has increased easily accessible pick slots by 60 percent and created almost two-thirds more storage space with the new warehouse design.

“By increasing our number of pick slots substantially, we got back two years of growth in expansion,” says Page. “In my estimation, we’re saving $2.7 million in expansion costs that we’ll forgo for a couple of years just by using the Atlet equipment.”

In addition, Page believes the expected 200 cases per hour selection rate will be an additional $365,000 savings per year or $1.85 million saved over the next five years.

Safety is another benefit of the system, says Page. “We were having between one and two accidents a month at our other facility and we haven’t had a single accident here with this new equipment. Our employees love these pallet jacks—one of the things they really like is when the platform raises up they feel safe because of the security bar, which creates a barrier so they can’t fall off the truck.”

Page believes the reduction of accidents will save the company more than $40,000 a year in work-related injuries.

The Atlet Tempo’s were pricier than similar models from other vendors, but Page believes they were well worth it. “We would have had to buy more expensive equipment had we gone with the narrow aisles, but the ROI we’ve gotten with Atlet is tremendous. By purchasing this equipment, we saved $186,000 before we opened the doors of the new DC.”

Jake’s runs on Retalix’s Power Warehouse software. The company, which has been using Power Warehouse for more than a decade, is using the warehouse management system (WMS) to accurately track product date fields to assure the freshest and safest products to its customers. It’s been using Vocollect Inc.’s voice technology for about 18 months.

Reducing The Carbon Footprint

The DC, which is HACCP certified and exceeds bioterrorism food handling requirements, represents a tremendous leap forward for Jake’s, in economic, safety and ecological terms.

“We wanted to find products and technologies to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Page, “but some of the things we did will not only affect the environment, but have a real impact on the quality and safety of our products.”

For example, the facility features a fully refrigerated dock, including a minus 20 degree storage facility for ice cream. This ensures that food is kept at proper temperatures throughout its handling and storage. The company is using an ammonia cooling system that is 30 percent more efficient than traditional cooling methods.

In addition, Jake’s utilizes a vortex non-chemical water purification system that permits greater reuse of water and ensures that it is environmentally safe when expelled.

“We’ve incorporated a high-tech automatic lighting system that is better than your average ‘green’ lighting standards, which will save us about $36,000 a year,” says Page.

Not bad for a company that started out in the egg business. “This is a gorgeous facility that was well thought out,” says Page. “We’re very proud of it—and we did it at a reasonable price.”

Jake’s Finer Foods At A Glance

Full-line distributor based in Houston

Founded: 1946

2009 sales volume: $80 million

Employees: 115 associates (including 24 in the warehouse)

Customer base: Serves more than 1,500 foodservice companies, independent restaurants, multi-unit restaurants and foodservice retailers

Service area: Texas, Louisiana

Size of warehouse: 180,000 square feet

Average number of SKUs: 2,000 dry; 2,000 refrigerated; 4,000 frozen

Average orders per day: 380

Average cartons shipped per day: 11,000

Inventory accuracy: 99.9 percent

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