Headquartered in San Carlos, California, Farmers Business Network (FBN) is a global farmer-to-farmer network and AgTech company. With FBN Direct, they have built the world’s first comprehensive online store offering a wider array of products so farmers can compare prices and weigh risk. Most of the seed, farm chemicals and livestock feed are shipped direct to customers from the warehouse.
Demand for their products and services was soaring, but with only a NetSuite enterprise resource planning (ERP) system acting as an interim warehouse management system (WMS), FBN’s pick policy wasn’t efficient or consistent enough to facilitate a rapid multi-site roll out.
They relied heavily on established labor, knowing what items to pick and where to pick from, plus manual loading, but FBN needed fully automated and standardized processes to save time, money and resource and take the risk away.
Additionally, the ability to remotely implement and self-configure the new and improved WMS was essential to overcome the challenges of the global pandemic, decrease rollout time and provide FBN greater control, more independence and internal system expertise.
SnapFulfil pioneered remote WMS implementation (RI), which produces the same positive results in adoption and use as traditional on-site engagement but also fosters speed-to-value partnership. In fact, one of the main reasons FBN chose SnapFulfil was its ability to scale as FBN grows.
However, FBN was also keen to explore how this might facilitate its own on-site implementation, so DC 1 would act as a blueprint for subsequent implementations, with a tailored “self-implementation” program developed to guide FBN in both project control and project execution.
Detailed technical support upfront (seamless integration with NetSuite, plus the likes of bespoke order transfer and stock management functionality) meant that moving forward, FBN had all the essentials in place for a seamless RI rollout across its DC estate.
Benefits and results
FBN’s first DC to be onboarded – a 186,000-square-foot distribution center in Newton, Iowa – quickly delivered vastly improved picking and space saving efficiencies of 30%. The automated approach eliminated the number of people manually involved, and with an eye to the future, delivered a blueprint that staff across all sites could easily follow.
The new RF guns also facilitated quick and easy integration and directives for all staff, and even newcomers with no previous DC knowledge/experience were picking by the pallet load within 30 minutes of instruction.
Having implemented the environment set up, FBN’s system engineer, Darci Fluit, was able to implement/configure the WMS in new DCs.
The new self-implementation documentation they followed covered everything from data gathering, configuring the technical infrastructure and user preparation and verification to data migration, stock take and validation and go-live support.
“The SnapFulfil team were strong partners who provided clear instruction and advised me on how best to interview our operational staff about their specific order volume and storage requirements; then map out the intricacies of the processes needed and phased implementation from the very beginning,” says Fluit. “With each go live, we saw increased speed and ease of implementation. After the first three DCs were handled remotely – and seamlessly – we moved on to three simultaneous sites coming on stream, just a week apart, but the program we had in place made it possible and the economies of scale implications [were] obvious. We were also able to handle more complex integrations.”
With a robust, proven and ever improving self-implementation program firmly entrenched in the process at FBN, the company fast-tracked its expansion plans, and in a year, saw 15 new DCs fully operational and powered by SnapFulfil.
Their volumes have rocketed exponentially and that’s down to the micro-DC approach, which facilitates much slicker, quicker and cheaper shipping. SnapFulfil has also given FBN the item fulfillment generation (as opposed to sales order) approach that is best for their rapidly expanding business.
They have built their TMS integration around it, and with an expansion roll out into Australia and Canada now underway, have created their own custom API with SnapFulfil.