Great Lakes Foods stocks 18,000 dry and perishable food items in 270,000 square feet of warehouse space in Menominee, Michigan. For more than half a century, this food distributor has been serving independent grocers in Wisconsin and Michigan. While the company has continued to grow, some of its technology had gone stale.
Receiving and picking was handled manually. Orders were printed out, and receivers circled items and made notes on the sheets. The information was then keyed into the inventory system.
Picking was done similarly. Armed with a stack of preprinted labels, pickers had to manually check the product codes on the packages to the ones on the orders. It was a time-consuming process that left far too much room for errors.
Realizing the “expense” of this manual system—in terms of labor and errors—then-CFO Craig Johnson brought in Diversified Data Systems after getting a strong recommendation from a DDSI customer.
DDSI assessed the operation and developed an automated data collection alternative to the cumbersome process that Great Lakes Foods had been relying on.
DDSI integrated its eWIN Warehouse Management Software (WMS) with handheld barcode readers, the Zebra 3190 and Zebra 9190. Using radio frequency data collection (RFDC), Great Lakes Foods’ receivers used the Zebra 9190’s long-range scanning capability, while pickers utilized the 3190 for closer scans. DDSI then added SyVox voice recognition software to streamline picking.
Jason DuPont, Distribution Manager for Great Lakes Foods, says the DDSI solution delivered a wide range of impressive results, including 30% reduction in mispicks, 15% increase in picking rates, and a 60% reduction in labor.
“With a simple scan, we know how much of everything we’re going to sell, and how much inventory we have in our home slots. It makes replenishment so much better, because we can send out a crew early. There’s no more waiting at an empty slot,” says Jason. “Maybe something tipped over and bled over into another home slot. We now catch problems like that fast.”
Although the solution development and testing required careful attention at DDSI, the deployment and training was quick.
“The guys at DDSI know we run 24/7 and they made themselves available to fit our schedule,” Jason explains.
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