Swim Different

10 companies that took an innovative approach to improving their operations.

Feeding The Hungry
Who: The Food Bank for New York City, Hunt's Point, NY, an organization that provides more than 67 million pounds of food annually to more than 1,200 nonprofit community food programs.

Why: Installs a WMS to dish out more food to the city's needy.

The largest food bank in the country and leading distributor of free fresh produce, the Food Bank For New York City serves 240,000 meals a day for New Yorkers who would otherwise go hungry. Every weekday food is collected, stored, repacked and distributed from its 100,000-square-foot warehouse located in the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in the Bronx. Fourteen to 16 tractors are dispatched daily to locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.

To better handle this task, the Food Bank needed to replace its largely paper-based tracking system, where physical inventories were done manually and adjustments keyed into the system. "It was not an instant system," says Antonio Peralta, director of IT. That, plus lost paperwork and inaccuracies, led Food Bank management to search for something that would help them better manage its inventory and better serve its customers.

The company discovered that the Krasdale Foods DC just down the street had installed a system to tackle similar challenges. The application implemented at Krasdale featured hand-held terminals, barcode scanning and the Open Ware­house Management System (OpenWMS) from Control Solutions Inc. (CSI), of North Branch, NJ. The OpenWMS is a real-time system, with receiving, directed putaway and picking features.

Integrator CSI came out to the Food Bank facility to spec out the system and do a site survey to establish where access points would be needed for radio communications between the host system, hand-held terminals and forklift-mounted terminals workers used as they roamed the sprawling warehouse. Plans also needed to include a connection to Microsoft's Navision Financial System that Food Bank management planned to implement.

The WMS was installed in 2002, and the financial end was connected in 2004.

Having a constantly updated inventory that truly reflects what is on its shelves has had an impact on all parts of the Food Bank, says Peralta. In the warehouse, "there's no more paper and writing down quantities, which was very time-consuming. It's easier to select orders——workers know where they need to go," he says.

Because the WMS and order-taking systems are so well-integrated, the logistics department, where orders are processed, runs much more efficiently.

The system also has made a huge difference in Agency Services, which provides customer service for all its programs. The real-time aspect allows workers to say with conviction what they can provide because they know for certain what is in stock.

The Food Bank's paybacks are inventory integrity, accuracy, better customer service, and, of course, productivity. Now, workers conduct physical inventories three to four times faster than before.

Though no changes are planned for the immediate future, Peralta says, "I think we can improve how we use it."

For now, however, this is a great improvement. "We are distributing more food to the needy," says Peralta. "That's what it's all about."


Working With Carriers In A Difficult Environment
Who: Dial Corp., Scottsdale, AZ, the $1.3 billion consumer package manufacturer and subsidiary of the Henkel Group based in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Why: Yields 12 to 15 percent savings in high-volume lanes.

With trucking capacity what it is today, the pendulum has definitely swung in favor of the carriers. Dial Corp. has turned the tide back in its own favor, securing carriers when other companies found it difficult. Because of its strategy for managing carriers, Dial also has been able to secure transportation for its more than 130,000 finished goods shipments a year from 41 locations around the country at lower cost, while at the same time getting contracted carriers to improve their service, rates and overall performance.

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