2010 Best in Supply Chain/DSD

By  William Atkinson — November 05, 2010


Streamlining Service
Workforce management solution increases merchandisers' productivity.

In the competitive world of the beverage industry, pennies can add up to dollars. Dr Pepper Snapple Group is in a constant mode of moving toward excellence. One set of goals that helps in this quest relates to improving customer service, enforcing employee accountability, and reducing "cost to serve"--specifically reducing "cost per (soft drink) case" by three cents a case.

Reduction of cost per case (which is defined as the exact cost to get a case from production to the sales shelf) continues to be a driving goal for the company. The major factors for this metric in the merchandising phase are centered around productivity of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group merchandisers. Specifically: how many jobs do they complete each day? How long does each job take? Is there effective coordination between distribution and merchandising?

Dr Pepper considered several competitive solutions. It sought an enterprise-focused vendor with enterprise-class software. It also required a solution that would complement its existing workflow as well as have the ability to integrate with its existing payroll and dispatch systems.

The company ended up selecting Xora, Janus Mobile, Sprint, and Motorola as its product and service vendors. The solution utilizes Motorola i580 and i680 phones on the Sprint network. Janus Mobile is a telecommunications consulting firm.

Xora provides mobile workforce management applications, combining wireless devices and Web-based software solutions. Its applications use the GPS capabilities of employees' wireless phones to streamline the exchange of information between the office and the field. Location, time card, and job data are captured through the phones and are then sent to the Xora Web application, where supervisors can view a timely picture of where employees are and what they are doing.

During the pilot phase, Xora assisted Dr Pepper in reviewing the equipment at each location and gradually updating the devices to allow for a smooth deployment. Once the equipment was secured, roll-outs were done regionally, with Sprint preloading the mobile devices, setting them up to spec, and then shipping them to each location. Xora visited each region to answer questions and provide training. In addition, Janus Mobile visited each of the 150+ physical locations to make sure that the phones were set up properly.

Merchandisers now heavily utilize GPS tracking data, electronic timesheets, and forms. They use mobile phones to log in and out of shifts and jobs. In addition, all information is time- and location-stamped for validation of service performed and hours worked. This provides Dr Pepper Snapple Group with efficient and accurate information about cost to serve, job performance, and payroll.

The monthly investment for the e-trace service is approximately $118,000. Initial implementation also involved upgrading or replacing about 50% of the merchandisers' phones.

The company estimates that the reduction in cost per case will yield approximately $9,540,000 in the first year of implementation. "It is too early to state specific savings yet, but we are already seeing a marked improvement in operational efficiencies in addition to better visibility into the activities of our large workforce," reports Derek Jung, sales automation manager. 


Route Tracking and Monitoring Solution
Pike County School System improved its bus routing and tracking to keep their kids safe.

Pike County School System in Troy, Alabama, wanted a GPS mapping product that met three goals: improved route mapping process for state reporting; improved accuracy of driver mileage reports; and improved parental communication through better visibility into real-time location of all school system buses.

"Mike Johnson, who heads our transportation department, had the vision to think about doing something like this," explains Stephanie Snyder, technology coordinator. "He and I spoke with our Sprint/Nextel representative who provided the direction we needed to get started. The school system selected TeleNav GPS technology and Motorola phones and continued to use its Sprint/Nextel service."

The school ordered Motorola i335 phones and TeleNav Track service for all of the buses in the system, and the phones were hard-wired to the buses using lockboxes.

The solution is currently being used by the school's 32 drivers and two administrators, and it has achieved all three goals. Reports on the routes can easily be generated for state reporting purposes, and maps can be produced with the click of a button.

TeleNav Track allows administrators to monitor the mileage driven by each bus, and easily produces a mileage tracking report. TeleNav Track allows administrators to find the location of any bus in the system in real time. "The installation has been working great," Snyder concludes.


Improving Operations
Toyota Tsusho America improved validation processes with a combined wireless technology.

Toyota Tsusho America, based in Dania Beach, Florida, had been looking for a way to improve its picking and packing operations for years. However, corporate guidance on risk and cost prevented any upgrades, modification, or replacement of the existing system.

In late 2009, the facility implemented new combined technology provided by BabbleWare, Wireless Logistics Hardware, Intermec, Sato America, and Cisco. The solution was designed to improve accuracy by providing real-time validation of work being performed as well as increase productivity by eliminating paperwork and by printing on demand only when the work is verified and completed.

The facility began by piloting a solution from BabbleWare. "We learned about BabbleWare and its ability to enhance our existing system without risk, cost, or disruption," explains Harry Nguyen, senior operations manager. "They offered an 'Innovate in a Week' project, where we could implement, execute, and measure the value of their application without commitment to purchase their software or services. When we analyzed our results, we not only met our accuracy objective but also discovered tremendous gains in productivity that we weren't expecting."

Without making any programmatic changes to the existing system that was running the facility, accuracy increased from 99.6% to 99.9996% within the week. Errors were eliminated, because the solution did not allow the worker to make an error before proceeding. Productivity increased by 290% (from 60 picks per worker hour to 172 picks per worker hour). The facility is now able to pick and pack in one step. Finally, labeling costs decreased by 91% in the same time period.

Return was not only immediate, but the project break-even point was approximately three months. The facility is now able to triple its volume to meet corporate plans without the need to increase headcount or acquire a larger facility.

"The impact on our business has been very positive," states Nguyen. "In addition, instead of being constrained by our ERP, we can now change our process, technology, and data fast enough to take advantage of efficiency opportunities or respond in a timely manner to new requirements."

The solution is currently being used by the employees in the Dania Beach facility. The solution passed the internal Toyota audit earlier this year and is being reviewed for a roll-out in 37 additional facilities in North America.


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