ECONOFOODS, a highly successful provider of frozen and chilled foods plus a wide variety of grocery products, has selected leading warehouse management software (WMS) specialist, CQuential Solutions, to fulfil its warehouse management needs as it expands its distribution network.
ECONOFOODS currently has seven distribution centres and 27 retail outlets that span six provinces in South Africa plus a cross-border operation in Lesotho. “The company employs 1 500 people and services approximately 1 000 foodservice customers monthly from the distribution centres,” says Jan Hendrik Buchner Operational Financial Manager – ECONOFOODS Gauteng & Northwest.
He notes the company was founded in 1996 with the goal of supplying top quality products at wholesale prices and all accompanied by a superior service experience. “We required a state-of-the-art system that could optimise our warehouse operations, drive greater efficiencies and support our growth plans as we expand our distribution network. CQential’s warehouse management system (WMS) fulfilled all of our requirements and was deployed in our Johannesburg warehouse,” says Buchner.
He confirms the deployment of CQuential WMS will serve as a pilot implementation that will eventually see roll-out to all of ECONOFOODS warehouses over the coming 18 months.
CQuential CEO Shaun O’Brien notes the implementation has moved swiftly and successfully and they are now past the initial set-up stage. “We have now moved into a space where the WMS functionality is being tailored to meet ECONOFOODS’ specific requirements.”
O’Brien says the implementation was not without challenges, including:
The CQuential team proposed the following strategic approach to overcoming these hurdles:
Buchner confirms the relationship is ongoing. “CQuential is an integral part of our operation in Johannesburg and thus we view them as a business partner. Moreover, we are looking to build on it with further system developments. This requires frequent interaction between both companies as we continue to roll-out CQuential’s WMS to our warehouses throughout the country,” he concludes.
Source: IT Web
ATG announced its acquisition on Wednesday, noting it will become part of the global enterprise.
Global commerce business Smollan provides retail solutions across five continents and over 450 000 retail stores worldwide. It counts online cleaning services platform SweepSouth among its investment ventures.
According to the statement, Smollan has acquired local software developer and supplier ATG from investment holding firm Capital Eye Investments. The acquisition has been ratified by all regulatory bodies and is effective immediately.
James Collett, chief data officer at Smollan, notes the importance of the strategic acquisition. “ATG joining the Smollan Group is a significant step forward in our strategy to expand our technology and data offering within retail and supply chain.
“We are extremely excited about the synergies which exist between the businesses, and as a leading global commerce solution company, we will be looking to grow the ATG footprint internationally. An aligned and strong culture is always foundational to creating a successful partnership, and in ATG and its people, we believe that we have found just that. We look forward to welcoming ATG into the Smollan family.”
Salic states the acquisition is one of the most important events in the history of Argility.
“ATG is immensely excited about this new phase in the history of the group. Over the past five years, we have made notable strategic investments in the acquisition of companies that have served to augment our goal of partnering with retail and supply chain organisations to help them digitise and transition into industry 4.0.
“The synergies between Argility’s vision and mission with that of Smollan made this a very appealing move for us and a good cultural fit for our group. Combining these strengths will serve to enhance ATG’s portfolio, expand our solutions and service delivery for current and future customers,” he notes.
The Argility Technology Group is a leading innovator and implementer of digital commerce and supply chain software solutions in Africa. Our vast experience combined with a depth of proprietary software and skills enables us to address the multitude of challenges facing businesses in today’s era of digital transformation.
We solve complex business problems by supplying and supporting various customised software solutions such as: Point of Sale; ERP; Warehouse, Fleet, IoT and Proximity Management; Data Science (Artificial Intelligence) solutions and more. We strive to become a technology partner and an extension of our customers’ businesses and not just another solutions provider.
The group’s origins trace back over thirty years as a leading software supplier to the retail sector. Decades of long, prosperous customer relationships bear testament to our customer-centric culture, exceptional service, and innovative thinking. From single systems to the digital transformation of an entire organisation – we have the solutions, skills, and experience.
The Argility Technology Group is comprised of: Argility; Cquential Solutions, Fleet Domain; SkyData Communications, and strategic partner, Ashanti AI. All are foremost technology developers and suppliers of enterprise software solutions for the Retail, Supply Chain, Fleet industries as well as a comprehensive IoT framework that enables local enterprises to integrate, manage and optimise their growing IoT ecosystems.
For further information: www.argility.com
Founded in 1931, Smollan is a global commerce business, delivering growth for retailers and brand owners across five continents. We partner with brands to create and execute insight-led solutions to deliver growth, wider distribution, and operational efficiencies.
Internationally recognised for our exceptional human platform of over 80 000 people and our sophisticated systems, we drive sales and create brilliant shopper experiences for some of the world’s most loved brands. We work at the pivot point where retailers, brands and shoppers intersect.
Contact us at www.smollan.com
Source: IT Web
CQuential – part of the Argility Technology Group and a developer of leading supply chain and warehouse management solutions and services (WMS) – has partnered with integration and automation specialist Flowgear in a move that will better enable CQuential’s ability to integrate with customers’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
CQuential’s core business has always been in optimising clients’ supply chain and warehouses, says Daniel Schotter, CQuential Operations Executive. “To achieve this, we invariably must integrate with our clients’ ERP systems. Traditionally, this has proven to be a complex and time-consuming exercise that negatively impacted on the overall cost of implementation. Following extensive market research, we identified Flowgear, an up and coming integration as a service (iPaaS) provider that had the right adaptors and entrepreneurial approach to business that is fundamental to CQuential’s market operations,” says Schotter.
He confirms the company’s rationale behind this move was driven by a need to either develop an in-house ‘Enterprise Service Bus’ or partner with a service provider that could fulfil the interface requirements. “In the past, we partnered with other integration houses but found those technologies rather expensive and, as such, prohibitive. We wanted to focus on our core strengths and partner with a business that could remove this hurdle to market for us. Flowgear is an excellent fit for us, as it has so many synergies with our offerings with an environment that is intuitive and easy to use,” notes Schotter. He adds CQuential has already integrated – on behalf of/and with clients – various packages including, Netsuite, K-Motion WMS and VeraCore WMS to name just some.
CQuential CEO, Shaun O’Brien, explains Flowgear offers integration and automation, on-premises and in the cloud. “Flowgear enables companies of all sizes to increase efficiency and reduce cost by integrating their apps, services, APIs and databases. At a far greater pace, and reduced cost, we can now self-deploy new interfaces with our current and prospective clients and generate other opportunities on behalf of our customers, as well as onwards to their clients,” O’Brien concludes.
by Rina Redelinghuys, CQuential WMS Customer Services Executive
Warehousing and supply chain management is a dynamic and ever changing environment. Companies operating in these sectors constantly strive to become more competitive and use technology as a key enabler to meet operational objectives.
There are many technologies out there that have the potential to drive these benefits, but voice picking has been proven to be an attractive option. Voice directed warehouse – also commonly known as voice picking, which is integrated with warehouse floor operations and warehouse management system (WMS), translates into a direct dialogue between your WMS and warehouse teams using plain language.
By voice-enabling your warehouse you move from a Radio Frequency (RF) centric operation to a voice-centric warehouse which frees up your pickers hands and eyes. Voice picking can be applied in all warehouse processes such as receiving; picking; put-away; replenishment; checking, and despatch. The fine picking area specifically has proven to benefit most when it comes to the voice picking capability.
The following are just some of the potential benefits of shifting to voice-centric systems:
Productivity gains can be as high as 50%.
Warehouse staff become more efficient. By freeing up their hands and eyes workers can concentrate on the task in hand. Distractions from side conversations are also eliminated.
Accuracy can be improved by as much as 80%.
The opportunity to make mistakes is greatly reduced because the operators hands and eyes are freed because they are not using scanners, and distractions from side conversations are eliminated by use of the voice headset and ongoing task dialogue. The use of location check digits increases in the voice process and augments greater accuracy.
Significant safety Gains.
To safely perform the task at hand warehouse operators must concentrate on what they are doing. By using voice picking operators are not distracted and can handle equipment, stock, and packaging in the safest possible way.
Training time can be reduced by over 60%.
The training process is significantly simplified because each task is voice driven. It removes the need to train the operators on reading picking slips, using the scanner and the application on the scanner, confirming information, etc. The training process is simplified by having the operator create a once off voice template and the remainder of the process is driven using step-by-step voice instructions.
Operators are motivated through improved performance.
By simplifying the warehouse process – for example, picking – makes it possible for operators to perform at much higher levels with reduced effort. Operator performance is improved, and they begin to see real benefits from incentives and take pride in their work.
Moresport partnered with CQuential, Honeywell and Datasmith to successfully deploy Honeywell Voice on CK3 devices and SRX2 headsets to address challenges and improve business processes.
Moresport Limited is South Africa’s leading sports and outdoor retailer. Moresport required a solution that increased fine picking productivity and maintained a high pick accuracy, especially during peak season. The company implemented CQuential’s cloud-based warehouse and supply chain management solutions.
39% increase in productivity in the first year alone!
Moresport experienced impressive results from the hands-free voice-picking solution. Its pick productivity increased by 39% in the first year. The company was able to significantly reduce the number of overtime hours required during peak seasons. There was also a significant improvement in worker health and safety with the voice-picking technology. Additionally, the voice-picking system payback period (ROI) was estimated to be between one and two years.
Moresport was able to address its distribution requirements much more efficiently, especially during peak retail trading months. The business experienced less human error due to fewer touch points, as well as quicker processing of orders and improved productivity. Additionally, Moresport implemented a successful semi-automated replenishment model, which further improved productivity and the flow of goods.
Master data is key to the functioning of the warehouse management system. The absence of accurate data will result in the system not being able to perform at an optimal level. The data will also be crucial to the ability to define business rules and workflows across the warehouse. A warehouse management system that has standard templates and a step-by-step user guide will reduce the burden of master data maintenance and setup within your operation.
The types of master data in the warehouse management system:
The benefits of accurate data:
What are the risks associated with poor master data management?
Approach to driving master data excellence:
Master data can be the difference between success and failure. Clean data throughout the business will enable a company to take advantage of new systems and services that have been developed in the market to drive business efficiencies. It will also ensure the business has a competitive advantage in the market and be highly responsive to new ideas and developments in the industry.
In case you missed it – also read: The challenges around warehouse optimisation
CQuential – part of the Argility Technology Group and a developer of leading supply chain and warehouse management solutions and services – has launched an inventory management system (IMS) designed for smaller companies in multiple sectors.
Shaun O’Brien, CEO of CQuential, says the new application targets a sector of the market that needs access to an entry-level solution that will help them manage their inventories more effectively at the right price point.
“Cquential’s highly-sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS) was developed for larger companies with a mature stock control and supply chain environment, but from speaking to clients we are aware there are many smaller companies in the South African market that are just at the beginning of their journey of digital transformation,” he says. “Our new IMS was designed with these companies in mind to give them an easy-to-deploy and highly-affordable way to get their inventory under control.”
Developed in-house by CQuential’s development team and leveraging the immense intellectual capital embodied in its flagship WMS, the new IMS is a standalone product that companies can test for 30 days. If they decide to continue using it, they can purchase it as a monthly service, so there is no obligation to commit to lengthy contract terms.
The CQuential IMS draws on CQuential’s deep understanding of the stock control environment to create a vanilla product that companies can deploy themselves using provided instructions and videos, saving massively on project management and other consultancy costs.
A fundamental design principle is that the software provides the structure for the client’s warehouse, rather than the other way round. It is suitable for a warehouse facility of approximately 1 000m2 and an inventory of around 300 SKUs (stock-keeping units).
O’Brien explains the IMS provides visibility of all stock, from receipt through to dispatch. Its flexible design means it can be used to control any type of stock, from fast-moving consumer goods, to hardware and even educational products — anything where product codes exist.
“The ability to manage stock effectively is vital in any business, and the IMS provides smaller companies with a much-needed, simple way to get a real handle on their inventory and take their customer service to the next level with greater accuracy and speed in picking orders,” O’Brien concludes. “CQuential’s IMS offers companies a way to embark on digital transformation without breaking the bank and provides a solid platform for growth.”
Supply chain is about efficiencies and facilitating an optimal flow of product from source to consumption. Warehousing is no different and the main objective is to reduce the cost per unit stored and handled within the warehouse without compromising customer service and fulfilment lead times.
The benefits of driving best practices within the warehouse:
This can be achieved by:
The supply chain and warehouse will always be under consistent pressure to respond to changes in customer behaviour and expectations. There will be a lot of solutions on the market, but the key is to find a fit to the businesses requirements and not overspend on equipment or systems that will not improve the overall warehouse performance.
Businesses need to plan for future requirements and not only focus on the current requirement as the environment will change over time.
Flexibility and agility are key, and this will drive sustainability into the future. If a business is very diversified and has many different operational requirements due to the type of products sold, then it may be more effective to consult with a 3PL logistics provider that has many different configurations and options to choose from when it comes to effective storage.
Alignment between people, processes and technology will drive further efficiencies within the warehouse. Without the right technology, it will be very difficult to measure the warehouse performance and to identify opportunities for improvement. The WMS is the source from which all improvements and efficiencies will emanate.
Catch my next piece where we will look at the importance of Master Data.
In case you missed it – also read: Warehouse theft prevention tips
There are many drivers that create cost and inefficiencies within the warehouse but theft can cause a lot of operational disruptions and it’s one of the most difficult to solve. It takes a combination of strong processes, security systems, warehouse management software and excellent hiring criteria to reduce the negative impact of theft within the business.
Theft is directly responsible for all the following:
It’s crucial that warehouse theft is dealt with in a timely manner to avoid any long-term damage and to retain ethics and values within the organisation.
Stock-take vs. cycle counting
Cycle counting ensures that your inventory is frequently checked for accuracy and without interrupting your operations. Not only is this a more productive and efficient method of inventory control, but it also makes it easier to spot theft because you can identify discrepancies sooner rather than later.
Missing stock vs theft
Inventory shrinkage in your warehouse is normal, within certain limits. The best way to identify theft in your warehouse is to conduct regular stock takes. If you notice discrepancies, investigate them immediately.
Red Flags – watch for the following indicators of theft:
Maximise managerial visibility in the warehouse
Having a strong managerial presence on your warehouse floor will deter theft. It can, however, be difficult for warehouse managers to spend a lot of time on the floor, as many of their duties require a computer.
Consider investing in a warehouse management solution that offers a mobile component, this would facilitate a desk free working solution for your managers. It will also lead to the following positive outcomes for managers as they walk the floor:
Limit access to stock in the warehouse
Use the physical layout of your warehouse to create barriers that help to prevent theft.
Ensure you install robust security systems in the warehouse
Installing security systems like access control and CCTV cameras not only deters criminals but also provides visual evidence of theft. Security personnel should be stationed at every entrance/exit of the building. Staff and visitors’ parking should be located away from warehouse operations. No private vehicles should be permitted anywhere near the warehouse.
Understanding the motivation behind theft
Knowing why employees steal can help you to effectively curb theft. In other words, break down why employees steal. This can be due to a myriad of reasons including:
Implement a Warehouse Management System – the less accurate your inventory records are, the faster your warehouse becomes an easy target.
Catch my next piece where we will examine the challenges around warehouse optimisation.
In case you missed it – also read: Effective Slotting – your next step in warehouse management cost reduction.
The key to slotting is following the right approach and considering all factors before agreeing on how products will be slotted within the warehouse.
There are a few tips below that should be considered:
To summarise – slotting impacts deployment of the workforce, the allocation of available space, the service rendered to clients or customers and ultimately, the profitability of the enterprise. In creating or modifying a slotting solution a matrix of factors apply that should be revisited periodically. Sometimes modest adjustments will be needed, but at others, major reconfiguration will be deemed essential.
The picking process can consume most of the resource time in the warehouse if not carefully planned.
The following are just some thoughts of what needs to be considered when determining the picking strategy of the warehouse:
In closing it’s key to select a picking strategy that meets your current and future requirements – doing so can save a lot of time and resources. It will also make the warehouse a lot more efficient and will enable you to deliver against all the customers’ requirements.
Again, the key to warehouse cost reduction is basing suggestions and solutions on data gathered from the operation. A best of breed warehouse management system will allow for this data collection in real-time so accurate decisions can be made when further optimising warehouse processes.
Technology is becoming a necessity in the supply chain and specifically in warehousing. Without the right technology the company will not be able to compete effectively. The warehouse can be a complex environment but if the right technology is selected all these processes can be simplified and made to become highly efficient.
The best of breed warehouse management systems will drive the following benefits within the facility:
The key is to bring together processes/people and technology to get the ultimate results from the warehouse.
Considerations when selecting a WMS vendor:
Warehouse management systems have evolved and become more sophisticated over time. Have you considered the installation of RFID portals at strategic points throughout your warehouse? This facilitates finding misplaced inventory much faster thereby saving on labour costs. You may also wish to consider the advantages of a voice-directed picking system, which uses speech recognition to communicate with your WMS, further streamlining warehouse processes, ‘put-to-light’ and ‘pick-to-light’ systems, also allow for speedy and paperless picking.
In closing technology will allow you to scale the business and enable you to measure the actual productivity of the warehouse which ultimately drives warehouse efficiencies and sustainability.
Watch out for my next piece when I will deliver important tips on how to prevent warehouse theft.
In case you missed it – also read: Challenges posed by the complex warehouse management environment and how they are met – Part 1
Rina Redelinghuys, CQuential WMS Customer Services Executive reveals the challenges posed by the complex warehouse management environment and how they are met.
I have worked in this industry for many years. The one thing that I can attest to is the speed of change and the impact this has on warehouse managers who are mandated with continuously looking for ways to improve and become more competitive. There is an ongoing trade-off to drive service excellence while maintaining operational costs to deliver against customer expectations.
The following are the main objectives of the modern warehouse:
In a series of articles, I will share tips around how the warehouse manager can achieve operational goals in the shortest timeframe.
The following areas will be discussed:
Supply chain professionals constantly search to find ways to reduce the overall cost of getting products from source to consumption – warehousing is no different. It requires the warehouse manager to take a holistic view of the operation to drive cost reduction within the facility.
Having said that, it is also important not to favour short term measures over long term sustainability and growth. It’s recommended that warehouse management executives still need to invest in new technology and infrastructure if they are to remain relevant and competitive in the long term. This investment will ultimately drive down costs and improve efficiencies.
To achieve overall cost reduction, the following areas should be considered:
Inventory Visibility – Visibility of the operation and inventory is critical to drive down operational costs. The benefits of improved inventory visibility are the following:
The objective of any operation is to utilise the full cube of the warehouse. This will drive down the storage cost per item, which in turn reduces the overall landed cost to the customer.
There are several options that a warehouse manager can explore to improve the utilisation of the warehouse:
The storage setup needs to be reviewed continuously to ensure the business gets the best utilisation of the warehouse space over time.
It is also important to contract services from a warehouse specialist regarding designing a layout that aims to drive storage optimisation. The specialist will be able to validate the current storage setup versus industry standards and suggest a layout that will work for your specific operational needs.
Cross docking is the transfer of product from the supplier directly to the customer reducing the need to store and handle the stock during the fulfilment process.
This type of model is well suited to the following operations:
The Benefits of cross docking:
Cross docking removes the storage link which eliminates the storage component within the supply chain. This type of model works and if implemented correctly will have a significant impact on cost reduction across the supply chain.
Catch my next piece which will reveal what is part science, part creativity – effective slotting.