Bob's Transport and Storage
Warehouse Management Case Study for 3PL
How Cadence WMS helped Bob’s Transport and Storage Grow
For more than 40 years, life has been sweet for Bob’s Transport and Storage (BTS) in Baltimore. That’s how long the warehouse facility has served the world’s largest sugar manufacturer, managing 80 percent of their product from a single 200,000-square-foot facility. Things are only getting better. By the end of 2017, BTS expects to double its sugar handling capacity by moving into a new warehouse spanning 400,000 square feet. Helping this growth is the implementation of Cadence Warehouse Management Software (WMS) from Cadre Technologies. Today BTS serves the sugar company’s major customers by distributing sugar throughout North America and parts of Europe to companies across a wide variety of industries, from pharmaceutical to food and beverage. Since the sugar ends up in products that are ingested, freshness and quality are important factors in ensuring human health and safety. Yet with twice as much storage space in its future, BTS must ensure that product is not sitting around for twice as long. BTS implemented Cadence WMS from Cadre Technologies in May 2016 to accomplish two key objectives: reducing human error and increasing the efficiency of its track-and-trace operations.
No Room for Errors
“The Cadence WMS system gives us more control,” says John Nichols, manager of compliance training and food safety. “Now the system can pick the product with the oldest production date code and send it out. So right away there is no possibility of the product withering on the vine while a newer product is shipped.” The track-and-trace process for BTW begins in the sugar company’s manufacturing plant and in-house distribution facility. Armed with handheld devices running Cadence WMS, workers encode key product information into a unique pallet-level barcode which is then transmitted to BTS. When BTS receives products, it simply scans the barcodes to identify the shipment, then puts it away into stock. While this dramatically speeds up the receiving process, it also enforces accuracy, which in the world of paper inventory, is often vulnerable to what Nichols calls “back thumb errors” — where numbers are transposed simply by hitting the wrong key. “Half of our errors in the past was because somebody read something wrong or keyed it into the handheld wrong. Now, when you’re doing dock-to-stock,” such as with Advance Shipping Notices a.k.a ASN, “you’re not keying things in, you’re just validating what is coming off the truck,” he says. “That takes a lot of the human error out of it. The way it is shipped is the way it is received, pretty simple.”
Food for Thought
Food and beverage manufacturers prefer working with technology-equipped warehouses, because it helps them meet the food safety and traceability standards established by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Cadence WMS collects and records important data at every stage of the journey, from point of origin to inventory to repacking to shipping. “Companies are looking to fall in line with GFSI. Having a WMS system gives you a higher level of confidence that the data you need to do good track-and-trace is accurate,” Nichols says. For BTS, one of the greatest features of Cadence WMS is its integration with the company’s Microsoft SQL Database™. This allows BTS to easily generate customized reports. In 2016, BTS started creating customer-specific reports at the request of certain companies that were receiving their sugar orders from BTS. BTS soon discovered that the reports were popular with companies that needed to be reassured that they were receiving as fresh a product as possible. These and other custom reports have become a value-add that helps BTS differentiate its service to customers.
Direct support that listens
Nichols says that he is impressed at the creative ways Cadre Technologies has made itself available to users like him. One example was the Users Conference, a three-day event held in St. Louis this past May. At the conference, users like himself learned more about the product from experts. Yet it soon became clear that customer insights were considered just as valuable. “We didn’t go there just to listen to them, we went there to get them to listen to us as well,” he says. “And that’s what they did.” Nichols and BTS also get direct support from Cadre’s Executive Vice President Daryl Grove who lives within a short distance of their warehouse. “‘Hands on’ is a pretty good way to describe how they treat customers,” Nichols says. “When you see these guys traveling all over the country servicing their customers, they’re not just putting out fires. They’re helping customers. And that’s what any software program is supposed to do — Helping the customer do their job better and with more efficiency. When that happens, it’s a win-win.”
Prepared for the future
Now with Cadence WMS installed and operable, BTS is ready to branch out and sign additional warehouse clients. “To compete out there in this marketplace, you have to have a modern warehouse management system, it just has to happen,” he says. There is no better proof of the company’s confidence than the new space it plans to inhabit by the end of 2017, which is double the size of the one it currently occupies. “By the time we vacate this building we’ll have the experience to attract other customers and get to a level where we’re operating multiple accounts,” he says. Efficiency and reliably are traits that are embedded in a product like Cadence WMS. Working with it and the Cadre team this past year is one of the reasons why BTS is planning for the expansion. Happy customers mean greater viability in the marketplace. “That is part of the marketing plan,” Nichols explains. “After many years we feel we’re in a position to market ourselves better to companies that require these technologies to do business.”