Casebook 2011: WCS trims waste, lowers costs
After several years of record growth, USANA Health Sciences saw a profound need for increased capacity and improved efficiency at its Utah distribution facility. New order management and warehouse control systems quickly and efficiently improved throughput, accuracy and productivity.
Founded in 1992, USANA Health Sciences is a leading international direct sales company that develops and markets nutritional, weight management and personal care products. The existing manual process was costly and inefficient, so the company looked to upgrade its Utah facility. Goals for the new warehouse control system (WCS; QC Software, 877-984-1101, http://www.qcsoftware.com) were to improve material flow and the overall throughput of the materials handling system, to improve the accuracy of the order fulfillment process as well as to improve productivity and support future growth.
The new technology enabled the company to achieve a 99% order accuracy rate. The 20,000-square-foot distribution facility now processes 5,000 to 7,000 orders per day and has the capability of shipping 21,000 orders every day. After the WCS implementation, order fulfillment was reduced from a 24/7 operation down to two 8-hour shifts for five days per week. Since the system is faster and more efficient, the number of employees needed was cut in half and order capacity increased 300%.
The first rollout phase was completed in August 2008 with the implementation of software to manage the real-time activities of the equipment and to oversee order fulfillment. The WCS now plans orders by optimizing the size and quantity of cartons used. A wave planner screen is used to group orders together for more efficient picking based on the delivery date, item size, pick location or other predetermined criteria.
In 2009, as part of the company’s green initiative, USANA added a conveyor system designed specifically to accommodate small packaging, removing the need for employees to manually repack these orders or ship them in larger containers. The software provider developed a new process to separate these orders from the regular pool. USANA then added a third line dedicated to smaller, non-conveyable orders, which reduced waste, significantly lowered costs and further enhanced picking efficiency.
“I estimate the company has saved about 2,188 kilograms, or 2.2 metric tons, of cardboard in the first six months of operation,” says Jim Brown, vice president of operations.