Argent Associates goes big with on-demand WMS
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a SaaS WMS solution put to work by Soutirage, a high end California wine merchant. I was interested in that story for three reasons. First, it was a unique application of our technology by an end user you wouldn’t ordinarily think of as a WMS customer. More importantly, I collect wine – my wife keeps a magnet on the fridge that reads “Wine is proof that God loves us,” to which I raise a Reidel and shout, Amen, Sister. Finally, I wanted to know more about the Software-as-a-Service model.
At the end of the day, the application was unique, but the data being collected and managed was comparatively routine for a WMS. In some respects it confirmed the conventional wisdom that an on-demand WMS is fine for fairly standard applications, but not for a complex warehouse.
Ray Moya, COO for Argent Associates, a 3PL, would like to challenge that notion. “People assume that SaaS is a simple application, but I have a very complex environment,” he says. “I am integrated with our enterprise system. I have EDI coming from our customers. We do the picking and shipping and we’re sending out ASNs.”
Oh, he’s also using the system (RedPrairie) to run a handful of distribution centers around the country and is providing his customers with real-time visibility into their inventory and orders and is using the system to manage a business that has grown from $7 million to more than $100 million in recent years. “I think simplicity is a misnomer,” he says.
So, who is Argent? Moya describes the company as both a 3PL and a value added reseller in the telecom space. For a retailer like Staples, they may purchase some products and then manage the replenishment to Staples stores. In the telecom space, they provide just-in-time delivery of products to Alcatel-Lucent manufacturing lines. They also do engineering, integration and kitting of products for GE Energy, which provides power systems for the central offices of telecom companies. “We will bring in the raw materials and components, set up the wiring and frames and then sell them to the customer,” says Moya.
Prior to going to an on-demand WMS, Argent used a homegrown WMS that had been developed to meet the requirements of one of its largest customers. Over the years, customers changed as did the software. About three years ago, Argent needed a new WMS to take on a VMI implementation for AT&T. “It was going to take 6 months to rewrite our system and I only had 3 weeks to implement,” Moya says. “Our on-demand system could handle both our VAR and VMI business and I could get it up and running without hiring a bunch of programmers.”
The rest, as they say, is history. “Honestly, it went very well. I had a harder time locating a warehouse in three weeks than switching over to a new WMS,” Moya says.
Since then, he has added multiple warehouses and multiple customers. The system allows each customer to see their inventory, orders and order status while limiting access to only that inventory that the customer should see. In the coming months, Argent will launch a system that will allow a customer to see their orders and inventory in two different states.
In addition to the speed of implementation, Moya says the system has saved him the cost of additional hardware, such as a server for the WMS, and provides him the ability to move personnel from one location to another without any retraining. It is also a central component of Argent’s disaster recovery plan. “If we are hit by a tornado and have to move into another facility, I know we can get up and running quickly,” he says.
Would he go to a traditional model? “I’ve put up three new warehouses in the last two years and when a customer asked to add some information that no one else had asked for in the past, we were able to configure it in about ten minutes,” he says. “I can’t foresee doing it any other way.”