Diversity Vuteq: Bringing visibility and mobility to the shop floor

Diversity Vuteq’s associates rely on a highly visual, iPad-friendly WMS to verify the accuracy of orders going to Toyota’s assembly plant.

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Diversity Vuteq; Princeton, Ind.
Size: 106,000 square feet
Products: Injection-molded plastic components for the interior of Toyota vehicles
Throughput: 20,000 containers per week
SKUs: 300 SKUs
Employees: 154 in production
Shifts per day/days per week: 3 shifts per day, 5 days per week with some weekend production

Automotive supplier Diversity Vuteq delivers injection-molded plastic parts to a nearby Toyota assembly plant. Parts are delivered just in time, every 42 minutes with 100% accuracy set as the goal. The iPads are mounted on lift trucks, carts or on a pole affixed to a tugger dolly, depending on the job being performed. The screens display human readable information, such as location, part number and quantity, along with color-coded prompts. At the beginning of a task, the border of the screen is yellow; if the team member is at the right location, scans the right part number and pulls the right number of parts, the border of the screen turns green; if an error occurs, the screen turns red, alerting the team member of a problem.

Receiving: In this facility, finished goods are received into the storage and order fulfillment area from production. (1) The process begins in manufacturing when a worker places plastic kanban containers with finished parts in a flow rack system located on the assembly line. A logistics team member working in the production area removes the kanbans from the rack system and scans the license plate bar code label on the container. A storage location for that container appears on the iPad mounted on the cart or vehicle.

Storage: At the storage location, (2) the logistics team member scans the storage location label and the label on the container or pallet going into inventory. If the display turns red, either the location or the container is wrong. If the two scans match, the display turns green and the associate puts the container or pallet into the storage location. The inventory is now available for delivery to the assembly plant.

Picking: To initiate the order fulfillment process for a scheduled delivery, labels are distributed to members of the picking team. A team member types a delivery load number into their iPad and is directed to the first rack location. (3)The team member scans the order label, the storage location and the license plate label on the kanban container. If all three match, the screen turns green and the associate places the right number of containers in a staging area located in front of the rack. Each pick is confirmed with a scan. Once that pick is complete, the team member is directed to the next picking location.

Shipping: The picking team member is trailed by a tugger operator who places the totes in the staging area onto pallets that are on dollies. (4) Each pallet is designated for specific products by Toyota. For the time being, that is still a manual process – tugger operators know by experience which totes are assigned to each pallet. In the future, Diversity Vuteq may extend the warehouse management system (WMS) to that process. Once all of the totes have been retrieved, the tugger operator delivers the dollies to the dock. (5) There, a dock worker unloads the dollies and stages the pallets. Once the Toyota truck driver verifies that a shipment is complete, the pallets are loaded onto the truck and shuttled to the nearby plant.

System suppliers
WMS: HOJ Logistics Engineering, hoj.net/hoj-logistics
Mobile computing: Apple, apple.com
Bar code scanning: Socket Mobile, socketcom.com  
Lift trucks: Yale, yale.com; Crown, crown.com
Push back racking: Steel King Industries, steelking.com
Tuggers: Toyota Industrial Equipment, toyotaforklift.com
Plastic pallets and containers: Orbis Corp., orbiscorporation.com


About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.

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