Case Study — Industrial Engineering

The Customer:

This company is a fifth-generation family-owned and operated company catering to all segments of the pet food industry. They are committed to food safety and manufactures entirely in the United States using whole grains and quality meats that can be traced throughout the supply chain.

The Situation:

This customer requires ample available storage locations to prevent production shutdowns and continually meet customer demand. Inventory accuracy and on-time order processing are critical. Each part of their supply chain affects the other, and bad things happen when one falls out of balance.

Problems arose following the implementation of a new warehouse management system (WMS) at their Midwest locations. Although the WMS had been in use for years at the Pennsylvania headquarters, internal processes and procedures in the Midwest created unique challenges, many of which went unnoticed and caused a multitude of inventory inaccuracies.

The situation hit rock bottom when the QA team determined hundreds of pallets of finished product didn't meet formulation requirements. Midwest warehouses were inundated with “Hold” product. Personnel had to manually sift through each pallet in order to segregate it from shippable inventory. Production quickly came to a standstill while the team worked to correct food safety concerns. That's when the company called Wagner Logistics.

The Solution:

The Wagner Industrial Engineering and Operations team landed onsite and immediately began to assess the situation. A detailed process definition and CAD facility layouts were developed for each warehouse. More Wagner team members worked with the customer’s management to uncover failing processes and staff deficiencies in order to plan training activities. Initiatives focused on WMS capabilities and limitations, but also on storage efficiency, material handling and food safety training.  

During the three-week consulting period, facility layouts were revised multiple times to reach a team consensus on a solution. The existing facility design included extremely deep storage bays that resulted in elevated “honeycombing” percentages and wasted floor space. By adding a few strategically placed aisles, the Wagner solution not only increased storage efficiency but also enhanced overall maneuverability with increased travel and material-handling options. The new design also added a 134-location case-pick area to streamline less-than-pallet quantity orders, which comprise nearly 20 percent of total customer demand.

Once the analysis and design phase was complete, employees took over executing the plan while Wagner moved into a support role. Pallets of “QA Hold” products were segregated out of available stock and storage location markings were applied on the warehouse floor. Barcode signs were ordered through a trusted Wagner supplier, and integration solutions were in place to handle the transition to a paperless operation.

Working with the master production scheduler, Wagner engineers created a warehousing schedule template that shows real-time statistics of inbound pallets of finished goods by class, quantity and arrival date. With ample upfront knowledge, management can plan product moves or redirect production materials based on availability of floor space.

Results:

  • “Honeycombing” at company warehousing facilities has been cut by 50 percent thanks to Wagner engineers' unique design strategies.
  • Average fill percentage for each storage bay increased to 90 percent, allowing for an additional 871 equivalent pallet positions. 
  • Product locations are clearly marked with ample room to safely store finished goods and avoid handling damages. 
  • High-visibility barcode plaques are installed throughout the warehouse to eliminate the error-prone keystrokes during product movements.
  • Warehouse staff are trained on proper material-handling techniques and shown illustrated examples of opportunities for improvement.

Overall, the company's warehousing efficiency, order accuracy and production performance continue to rise as this company executes the Wagner solution.

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