Manufacturers and distributors alike recognize that warehouse operations run more efficiently when processes are fully automated and integrated.
In fact, a comprehensive warehouse management system (WMS) is an important part to attaining and preserving profitability, while accurately monitoring inventory levels is essential to achieving bottom line results. However, this process is especially difficult when dealing with product sold in sets or pieces, as premier luggage manufacturer Randa Luggage found.
To address this particular product-picking predicament, Randa decided to completely overhaul its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) software system and implement a new WMS package with the capability to sort out complicated inventory management issues with streamlined procedures and real-time data access.
With prestigious brands including Nautica, Tommy Bahama, Diane von Furstenberg, Liz Claiborne, Donald J. Trump and CHAPS, Randa Luggage, headquartered in Totowa, New Jersey, is one of the largest luggage and travel accessories companies in the U.S.
Randa manufactures and sells premier fashion, lifestyle, luxury and private label products to major retailers on all five continents.
Randa’s chief hurdle was to automate its warehouse operations with an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) friendly solution. EDI is a standard format for exchanging business documents. Randa’s database was so modified that the company could no longer move forward with the technology, and the only logical solution was to upgrade its systems.
In addition, Randa’s inventory and billing procedures posed difficult challenges because the company nests its luggage to save warehouse space. Randa found it complicated to keep track of luggage sets and loose pieces, and therefore, needed an automated picking solution to sort out this complicated process.
To address these concerns, Randa worked with VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) to develop a comprehensive WMS and radio frequency (RF) tool to restructure the nesting and de-nesting process.
Simplifying the picking and inventory management process was the chief motivation for revamping Randa’s warehouse operations. It was vital that warehouse, sales and customer service staff have the ability to view the real-time product availability of both luggage sets and individual pieces. This capability would help to improve order accuracy, streamline operations, reduce labor costs, increase shipping speeds and expedite billing procedures.
Finding the Right Partner
Randa wanted to work with a local software developer to implement a total WMS solution, and was pleased to find an experienced vendor right in its own backyard. After its initial meeting with VAI, Randa was confident that VAI understood the company’s concerns and would develop a solution to meet those needs. In addition, VAI’s extensive technical qualifications and unrivaled industry experience made VAI an easy choice.
“To fulfill Randa’s request to know at any given time exactly how many individual pieces and sets of luggage were available, VAI had to extensively modify its S2K package. Essentially, we had to reverse manufacture—take a process and explode out the components into individual pieces,” said Ana Arellano, Project Manager, VAI. VAI’s broad knowledge of manufacturing and warehouse operations made this an attainable goal for Randa.
VAI implemented its S2K for Manufacturing and its S2K for WMS solutions for Randa. After determining the company’s primary requirements, VAI tailored the tools to meet the reverse bill of materials functions that Randa needed, resulting in an improved picking process for the manufacturer.
“Originally, Randa had no idea how many kits were in inventory because everything was presented as loose pieces,” commented Ira Dannenberg, Project Director, VAI. “For this project, VAI converted the company’s inventory from individual pieces to kits. We changed S2K’s availability calculations, which dramatically enhanced the type of information that S2K provides Randa. The company now has total, multi-dimensional inventory visibility.”
Since VAI adopted a dedicated approach to understanding Randa’s particular business challenges, the implementation was a smooth process. As a result, Randa possesses a unique enterprise solution that has drastically enhanced the product picking process, inventory visibility and query writing capabilities for the company.
Randa’s Director of Management Information Systems, Cheryl Nylund, noted, “S2K’s internal database is truly exceptional. Randa now has the ability to write countless queries—drilling down to specific user requests effortlessly. At VAI’s recommendation, we purchased New Generation Software (NGS) as an add-on to S2K. This suite of fully integrated query and reporting solutions provides central management of all of our reporting functions from a single application and has greatly improved the flow of information throughout the company.”
Using the Solution to Solve the Problem
VAI’s S2K solutions have allowed Randa to obtain a comprehensive view of its distribution, manufacturing and warehousing operations. VAI’s ability to customize the software to effectively address Randa’s challenges has provided a flexible inventory management solution for delivering real-time product data to sales, customer service and warehouse employees.
Evaluation- Results and Benefits
In utilizing VAI’s WMS and ERP solutions, Randa has unlocked the inventory information it needed to service its client base effectively. Randa now has an advanced picking method that offers streamlined operations, reduced labor costs, decreased paper use and faster shipping and billing procedures.
With built-in smart view, desktop icons providing real-time data customized to the individual user, Randa’s sales staff can identify the availability of specific products. In addition, Randa accounting personnel can obtain detailed reports supplying the information needed to make real-world business decisions that affect the bottom line.
EXTOL, a premier provider of business-to-business integration solutions for Electronic Commerce (EC), and a VAI business partner, provides Randa’s offline data center capabilities. EXTOL enables Randa to exchange EC transactions and documents between applications. VAI and EXTOL developed this seamless interface which facilitates rapid implementation and easy on- going support. This middleware solution allows Randa to download online sales transactions and have fully integrated offline entry capabilities in seconds. In the past, it took Randa staff hours to enter orders manually.
Most importantly, when stock is taken out of a nest, it is broken down automatically so that Randa knows how many luggage pieces and sets are in stock and where the boxes are located—in real-time–-accelerating the company’s shipping and billing processes. With the utilization of RF guns and the elimination of printed pick tickets, the company has dramatically reduced its paper consumption. In addition, automated billing has allowed the billing cycle to begin the moment product leaves the facility. Prior to the S2K implementation, billing did not occur until two to three days after the product was shipped. As a result, quick delivery, invoicing and improved customer satisfaction are helping Randa to grow its business—both nationally and internationally.
Cheryl Nylund remarked, “VAI’s S2K suite has delivered on its promise to streamline our operations and provide maximum visibility of key business operations. For Randa, S2K’s automation capabilities have provided the foundation on which to fuel our continued growth and success.”