A Midwest food manufacturer made an aggressive commitment to retailers in the spring of 2013: new production lines running with the goal of putting a hugely popular product on store shelves in a 3 ½-month timeframe. The client’s IT and operations staff needed to move from a legacy paper-based system to a system driven by bar code scanning. The ultimate objective was to be able to electronically transfer traceable pallets of product into their SAP planning system in order to provide customer service with the ability to see what was ready to be loaded on trucks for shipment.
Ultimately, the manufacturer needed to be able to go from paperless to real-time in 3 ½ months—no small task.
Intermec Technologies (now Intermec by Honeywell) recommended AbeTech as an end-to-end solution provider that could capture case UPC numbers on the manufacturer’s moving production lines, build a back-end solution to interface to/from and then push data into SAP in a matter of minutes. With continual automation issues at the client site jeopardizing the commitment timelines they had made, AbeTech stepped back and turned the fixed position scanning solution into an Intermec mobile computing solution using 2D Data Matrix codes to capture finished cases and pallets and also provide date, time, line, operator, shift and SKU number to anyone holding an Intermec CK71 mobile computer within 25 feet of the 2D bar code.
Now finished goods are submitted into SAP within a target of 3 – 5 minutes after pallet completion, and a proactive alert is sent to a fork truck driver for pickup and loading on a waiting semi truck. Because the product has a shelf life, the operations team is alerted via email if a pallet isn’t picked up within 15 minutes of completion. With the old system, pallets of finished product would sit for days and a manual search of the pallets increased labor time and decreased productivity. The new system allows anyone with a CK71 to scan the 2D code and know the entire lineage of a pallet’s contents and where it belongs, in real time.
Before implementing the new scanning solution, information about finished pallets would be manually keyed into the system 1 – 2 days after a pallet was produced, directly shortening the shelf life of the product as well as shipments to retailers across North America. Today, the client knows within a matter of minutes when a pallet is ready for shipment, and any missed pallets can be identified and found within minutes.
Once again, AbeTech helped a client design, build and deliver the right tool, the first time.