Warehouse Management:
Inventory Control and Order Fulfillment


A large computer manufacturer which provided seven days a week, 14 hours per day service operations needed to move off of old technology and onto a new integrated platform capable of handling a predicted, significant increase in order volume. The new system would need to be capable of integrating receiving, inventory management, order fulfillment, shipping, tariff management, and service call coordination all on a common platform with common technology. The business group was also responsible for supporting special emergency order fulfillment for customers and could not afford prolonged downtime of such applications for medical and financial customers. The existing operation was slowly becoming overwhelmed by order volume and additional resources to operate the warehouse were contracted from the shipping vendor to assist with order fulfillment.


The new software platform the client had selected must be implemented into the service operations which ran seven days per week, 14 hours per day, with absolutely no impact on general operations or emergency order fulfillment. The project also required replacing and testing a new conveyor without the availability of spare warehouse floor space, implementing scanner and software systems, re-engineering business workflow, training new users, and bringing the new system on line within a 6 month timeframe.


ADC consultants managed and coordinated the efforts of over 50 resources including teams from multiple equipment vendors, shipping service personnel, and multiple shifts of teams internal to the client's warehouse operations. ADC documented existing processes and procedures and prepared detailed requirements for the future state of the system. In parallel ADC reviewed and assessed capabilites of best of breed software packages, scanner/printer systems, and conveyor control components making a recommendation to the client for preferred vendor selections in each category. Since no excess floor space was available to install the new conveyor and scanner system, ADC developed a rather unique solution. It leveraged the client's investment in existing conveyor systems and overhead scanner equipment and also solved the problem of stress testing the new system to ensure it could handle the increased volume of order flow. The ADC solution separated the software from the input and conveyor devices. Both old and new systems were brought on line in parallel but shared the same conveyor control and scanner interfaces. An order control process was developed that allowed ADC to route specific orders either to the old or new system and in case of a failure in one system, immediately re-route the order through the other. An automated reconciliation process was put in place to ensure that no orders were missed or filled in duplicate. This deployment model allowed the new system to be brought on-line gradually, increasing the order flow to the new system over time as stress testing and training occurred. The existing conveyor system was expanded and a new wireless, handheld scanner terminal network was also added.


The new system went on-line on schedule and below budget without a single emergency order failing to ship. The new system brought improved efficiencies through the application of new technology allowing each employee to process more orders each day. The forecasted 100% increase in order volume was handled by the client's existing warehouse staff while at the same time reducing the number of supplemental warehouse employees provided by the shipping vendor. The gradual deployment model allowed conversion to the new system to occur over time instead of on a single switchover date allowing necessary tweaks to be identified, corrected and re-deployed on the fly. It also allowed for a longer training window for multiple shifts of employees to familiarize themselves with the system. The project was deemed an overwhelming success by the client, so much so that the system was deployed in several other client warehouses across the world.