Warehouse Management System Delivers a 20% Increase in Sales for Duncan Industrial Solutions

Oct. 1, 2007
This case history about Duncan Industrial Solutions comes courtesy of PathGuide Technologies. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff

This case history about Duncan Industrial Solutions comes courtesy of PathGuide Technologies. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Duncan Industrial Solutions, a family-owned business since 1948, is a national MRO supplier and supply cycle specialist. Headquartered in Oklahoma City with 161 employees, the company places a high priority on getting customers the things they need, when they need them.

Duncan’s 50,000 square foot warehouse stocks nearly 20,000 items. It includes a 4-pod carousel capable of holding 16,000 items, with the rest of the warehouse comprised of bulk rack and store rack.

In 2006, the company decided to streamline its warehouse operations and replace its paper-based system with an automated warehouse management system (WMS). The company chose Latitude from PathGuide Technologies, a leading provider of warehouse management systems for wholesale and industrial distributors.

Since deploying Latitude, Duncan Industrial Solutions has experienced the following results:
· Sales have increased 20%.
· Order accuracy consistently runs at nearly 100% (up from 92%).
· Overtime in the warehouse has decreased 27%.
· Number of warehouse staff has decreased from 15 to 13 employees.
· Training time for new warehouse employees has been reduced by approximately 80%.

Latitude is a software suite that automates warehousing and distribution to provide real-time online information about inventory. Latitude automates all operations from receiving and order picking to manifesting and truck route/stop management. It integrates seamlessly with ERP business systems such as Microsoft Dynamics, Activant, J.D. Edwards and Oracle. Latitude is designed to help industrial distributors pick, pack and ship orders faster and more accurately, resulting in greater productivity and profitability.

The Challenges of a Paper-Based System
Prior to Latitude, the company used a paper-based system. “Back then, I have to admit it was a little bit like controlled chaos,” said Mike Bell, Executive Vice President of Operations at Duncan Industrial Solutions. “We really needed better controls on cycle counting and inventory in general.”

Serial numbers for tracking warranty claims on oil field and heavy fluid pumps were handled manually, which could result in a number being lost or transposed incorrectly.

The paper-based system also presented several challenges related to shipping. Because tracking numbers were entered manually, human error could cause problems with tracking orders and obtaining freight quotes. Generating customized shipping labels was also problematic. Several key customers required specific, detailed information on labels and packing slips. To accommodate this, Duncan Industrial Solutions had special stations located in the shipping area for these customers, and PCs were set-up so warehouse employees could key-in information and generate unique labels and packing slips before product shipped. “Needless to say, creating custom labels was very time consuming,” commented Bell.

Warehouse employees also spent a significant amount of time needlessly putting away newly arrived inventory that was on backorder.

The Latitude Solution
When Duncan Industrial Solutions decided to deploy a WMS, it chose Latitude because of its strong integration and seamless communication with both their carousel picking system and host ERP software.

Sales have increased by approximately 20% as a direct result of using Latitude. “Being able to track orders from inception to shipping has had a huge impact on our business and has really driven the sales increase,” said Bell.

Today, when inventory arrives that is on backorder, Latitude automatically identifies it so product can ship back out to customers without being putaway. And for those customers with special label requirements, Latitude’s system integration now automatically generates customized labels and packing slips.

Manifesting has also made a big difference in Duncan Industrial’s shipping process. The company uses Latitude to integrate with UPS for small parcel and FedEx Freight, and Latitude also allows the company to load and manifest with other regional carriers. With automated tracking, Bills of Lading and carrier communication, problems related to tracking shipments or obtaining freight quotes have been drastically reduced.

Since using Latitude, the company consistently achieves an order accuracy rate of nearly 100%, up from 92%. “With such high order accuracy we receive very few customer complaints and this gives us a competitive advantage. Our customers have peace of mind knowing their orders will arrive correct and on time,” continued Bell.

Cycle counting has also improved, with the company’s utilization of Latitude’s Cycle Count Planning module to create comprehensive, periodic cycle count plans and measure progress toward completion of the plans. With Latitude’s cycle count functionality, inventory accuracy has increased from 86% to 98%. As a result of better inventory accuracy, the company has significantly reduced its levels of safety stock.

Duncan Industrial Solutions has also achieved greater labor efficiencies. Since using Latitude, warehouse staff has been reduced from 15 to 13 employees and overtime hours in the warehouse have decreased by 27%. Training warehouse staff is also much easier. Prior to Latitude it took an average employee several months before he/she was ready to pick; today it takes new employees just 1-2 weeks to get up-to-speed.

Well poised for continued growth, Duncan Industrial Solutions’ management remains committed to embracing new technology for greater efficiencies, improved customer service and increased sales. Latitude remains an integral part of the company’s warehouse strategy.

“We’re very pleased with the results we’ve seen from Latitude and the team at PathGuide is a pleasure to work with,” ended Bell. “We appreciate how PathGuide listens to our questions and takes the time to understand our business. Most companies want to push their way on you, but PathGuide shows the professionalism that most companies forget.”

MHMonline.com welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Clyde Witt([email protected]), MHM Editor-in-Cheif. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.