Regional Retail Grocer Optimizes Supply Chain with Wireless Control, Tracking & Management of Industrial Trucks & the People Who Operate Them

Sept. 1, 2007
This case history about Price Chopper comes courtesy of I.D. Systems, Inc. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content

This case history about Price Chopper comes courtesy of I.D. Systems, Inc. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

Based in Schenectady, New York, the Golub Corporation operates more than 100 “Price Chopper” supermarkets in upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, northeastern Pennsylvania, and Vermont. All Price Chopper stores are serviced from the same 950,000 square foot warehouse complex in the Schenectady, New York area with a fleet of 275 material handling vehicles, including 150 double pallet jacks.

Price Chopper is a family owned company that prides itself on longstanding traditions of innovative food merchandising, leadership in community service, and cooperative associate relations. Golub’s approximately 24,000 associates collectively own 51% of the company’s privately held stock.

In 1982, Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation was established as a way of giving back to the Price Chopper communities through financial support to eligible charitable organizations in the areas of health and human services, arts, culture, education, and youth activities.

After upgrading its Warehouse Management System (WMS), Price Chopper realized that to fully streamline operations, it also needed an industrial vehicle management system.

This type of system complements a WMS with vehicle access control and complete activity tracking. With vehicle access control, only authorized, trained drivers are able to use mobile equipment, which:
(1) curtails anonymous abuse (not just to equipment, but also to goods and the facility itself),
(2) enforces compliance with OSHA safety regulations for pre-shift checklists (the existing paperbased checklist model was labor-intensive, ineffective, and costly), and
(3) quantifies the full activity of the operator and vehicle (who was on what equipment when, for how long, and how much they were in motion, idle, etc.).

Price Chopper chose I.D. Systems’ Wireless Asset Net® system for industrial fleet management to better position itself to achieve increased accountability, productivity, asset utilization, and operational cost savings. The Wireless Asset Net ensured that Price Chopper‘s lift truck operators followed prescribed login procedures prior to the start of shift, which made them responsible and accountable for their vehicles. The detailed operator and vehicle activity data generated by the system helped Price Chopper identify operational bottlenecks and respond to them in a timely fashion, which reduced operator set-up and wait time. The system’s two-way paging feature also enabled Price Chopper to get in touch with their operators faster and helped operators speed selection of the right replacement battery, resulting in increased productivity.

Overall, the increased operator accountability,robust system reporting functionality and operational improvements allowed management to concentrate on customer-centric tasks and generated significant labor savings. With the assistance of accurate monitoring of fleet utilization and efficiency, Price Chopper increased its overall productivity levels by 12%.

The benefit of assigning vehicles to certain groups also helped Price Chopper maximize the utilization of its mobile equipment. For example, 10 pallet jacks dedicated to the grocery department were recently configured to also be available to the perishables department. Planning is underway to allot equipment on a similar departmental “sharing” basis going forward. This sharing methodology enables equipment to be utilized constantly, with minimal down time. Excessive down time was a problem when each department retained sole control over its own group of vehicles.

To reveal inefficient fleet utilization, the Wireless Asset Net provides unique “simultaneous usage” charts that display true peak use of equipment by group. Using this data in combination with the system’s command and control tools, Price Chopper was able to reduce its industrial truck fleet by 10% (25 vehicles). Furthermore, real-time visibility of the entire fleet eliminated the need for Price Chopper to keep rental vehicles, resulting in an additional 10% cost savings.

The system also saved Price Chopper money through avoidance of new equipment purchases. Price Chopper had planned to add new vehicles to its industrial truck fleet to support its growing business, but the increases in fleet utilization achieved with the help of the Wireless Asset Net meant that even as throughput increased, Price Chopper did not really need to purchase new equipment. This cost avoidance was equivalent to approximately 5% of total fleet capital acquisition costs.

In addition to these substantial capital cost savings, fleet reduction enabled Price Chopper to save almost $200,000 in annual fleet maintenance costs. Similarly, a 19% cost reduction was realized in forklifts parts inventory, since there were fewer vehicles to maintain.

The Wireless Asset Net’s maintenance management tools also enabled a 10% reduction in maintenance costs for the remaining fleet, including abuse costs. Price Chopper realized a 15% decline in the number of anonymous accidents by using the system’s impact sensors. The system’s real-time graphical viewer software was used to identify the location of equipment due for maintenance, so it could be brought into the shop quickly, without wasted search time. And Price Chopper used the Wireless Asset Net’s maintenance software module in conjunction with its own third-party maintenance software for automated maintenance scheduling.

In terms of fleet safety, the benefits of using the Wireless Asset Net’s electronic vehicle inspection checklists were immediate: increased compliance with OSHA safety regulations and, simultaneously, increased productivity. In the first year after initial system installation, Price Chopper recorded a reduction of 850 man hours spent completing and managing checklists, which translated into total labor and material cost savings of more than $27,000.

• Significant cumulative cost savings/return on investment (ROI)
• More streamlined operations
• Increased accountability
• Increased productivity

Price Chopper had initially projected an ROI in just over three years. In practice, I.D. Systems’ wireless fleet management technology paid for itself, and more, in less than two years. Average annual hard cost savings for the system amounted to $192,570 and soft cost savings were $48,781.

As a result of its positive ROI, significant cumulative cost savings and increased productivity, Price Chopper can look forward to utilizing additional benefits of the Wireless Asset Net system, such as advanced reporting and analysis on operator productivity, to derive further benefits from the system.

Advanced wireless technology delivers multi-faceted solutions for industrial vehicle management and can deliver a compelling return on investment, as demonstrated by the wide range of leading corporations and government agencies that have deployed the technology. The most advanced, effective, and successful systems drive significant economic benefits through a comprehensive suite of functions, including:
•Autonomous, highly configurable, on-vehicle intelligence
•Robust RF communication system architecture with no singlepoint of failure
•Effective, reliable vehicle access control with on-vehicle database
•Real-time location tracking and “breadcrumb trail” playback of travel paths
•Unique utilization & productivity data analyses
•Automated battery monitoring, text messaging, and other
•vehicle related activity management tools 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.