WES/WCS improves Neesvig’s order fulfillment productivity
The food fulfillment firm increased throughput by 40%, while also reducing labor costs by 35%.
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As a family-owned meat processing and specialty food fulfillment firm, Neesvig’s not only distributes products nationwide, but it also specializes in third-party logistics (3PL) services for dozens of top brand food suppliers and retailers of perishable, frozen, refrigerated and dry goods.
So, when continuous growth began to overwhelm its previous facility and limit its ability to add additional customers, Neesvig’s decided to develop a new facility. In preparation for the development, it hired a supplier to perform a facility engineering design study and define means to improve its order fulfillment operation. The study concluded that a new facility—incorporating lean automated pick, pack and ship processes—would yield substantial savings and quickly justify the investment.
Neesvig’s implemented automation controlled by a warehouse execution system (WES) and warehouse control system (WCS). Among other offerings, the system includes a voice-directed, order fulfillment automation module that manages the entire pick, pack and ship order fulfillment process throughout the new distribution center. And, at order start, it manages cartonization (to direct cooler size selection), as well as document insertion and license plate bar code label application.
Pick-by-voice directs order picking throughout the operation. At order release, the system’s batch picking begins in the freezer and directs bulk picking of products. The products are then moved and dynamically slotted to the forward cooler area pick module.
After that, customer orders are picked to the shipping container/coolers, as items are picked and pack validated, using a combination of voice- and hands-free bar code scanning for capture of the SKU, GS-1 lot numbers and sell-by dates. At the exit to the pick module, coolers then receive the proper ice pack quantities so orders arrive frozen at the customer’s home.
“Voice picking has streamlined the process, reduced errors and increased worker productivity,” says Paul Werwinski, president of Neesvig’s. “We reduced picking labor in the freezer by 50%.”
Automation, as a whole, has given Neesvig’s efficiency gains across the entire operation, providing an excellent ROI and scalability to handle Neesvig’s growth. The investment has also reduced labor costs by 35% and increased throughput by 40% during peak periods.
“From start to finish, we have less touches, faster order completion time and less errors,” Werwinski adds. “Automation has paid off for us.”
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