Over the past 15 years, our supply chain consultancy company has guided a leading online sport’s equipment and apparel company through a series of operations solutions to stay ahead of volume and inventory capacity needs driven by their rapid growth. We led two design efforts, each to double capacity. The first called for a move to a new DC, and the second included a 50% expansion several years later. The latest expansion added a conveyor/sortation system to effectively support more parallel multi-zone picking. The expansion design doubled throughput and holding capacity, producing significant productivity and cycle-time benefits.
An international grocer’s home delivery expansion plans required a more strategic and higher performing approach to its high-volume central order fulfillment centers. We were chosen to work with the client and the chosen material handling equipment partner to evaluate and develop more automated designs and overall processes to support the intended growth. Capacity modeling tools were built to align facility sizing and equipment with market penetration strategies. Launches of two major-market DCs are underway.
Faced with increased competition and a DC network that had not been updated in 15 years, a cosmetics company called us to consult and assess their multi-facility network and take the lead to design their “DC of the future.” Our consultants worked closely with the internal client team to facilitate innovative new operations design approaches and a rigorous business case to support the capital investment. The two-year redesign program concluded with the implementation of a new DC and tier-1 logistics technology. Significantly improvements in capacity, productivity, and overall efficiency allowed the client to reduce their DC footprint in the North American network.
A manufacturer and distributor of aftermarket auto parts experienced severe fill-rate problems and increased inventory levels. The product line included a high number of SKUs with low demand and long lead times, making forecasting and stocking difficult. We refined the forecasting process to be more efficient and useful. Inventory planning attributes were enhanced to recognize each item’s demand variability and profit margin to plan inventory in the most critical products. As a result, overall inventory levels were maintained, and fill rates went from peak-season lows below 80% to overall rates in the mid 90% range.
A leading distributor and marketer of beer, wine, and spirits grew steadily and neared capacity limits in one of two DCs located in the state. With the lease on the constrained DC approaching, a decision was needed on the distribution network. We performed a network analysis to evaluate alternative scenarios such as expansion or relocation of the capacity-constrained location, consolidation into one central mega DC for the state, or utilization of more cross-dock points along with DCs. The chosen network provided additional capacity, reduced logistics cost by 3%, improved service to key markets, and defined volume triggers for when to establish new cross-dock locations and distribution centers.
A private equity group acquired a division of a global electronics components manufacturer. Under very tight deadlines, a new global logistics infrastructure had to be established. Our consultancy team helped the new company define requirements and manage selection of third-party logistics providers in four countries; establish contracts with air, ocean, and grand transportation providers; and reduce freight rates by 5% to 15%. The team from Crimson & Co North America also assisted with systems migration and transition/start-up with the new providers within tight contractual time constraints.
A major apparel manufacturer and retailer wanted to improve the productivity of its “major customer” picking operation. We developed standards for the process and used its Crowd Engineering technique to create video-based training to teach the best picking methods. Because the company didn’t have any Labor Management System, we built a simple one, interfaced it to the WMS (PkMS). and used the reports to first identify process bottlenecks hindering worker utilization and then later to drive picking efficiency. The analysis and the process improvement resulted in a 30% productivity increase.
Small warehouses can enjoy performance excellence programs as well as large ones. At this thirty-person warehouse that ships hard goods to home improvement stores, our team developed labor standards, implemented LMS software, coached supervisors in their new role as performance managers, and helped drive productivity up over 15% in the first six months after implementation. Through the success of their performance excellence program, the operation lost three people to normal attrition without needing to replace any of them.
One of the world’s largest eCommerce organizations experienced severe throughput, fill-rate and quality problems from a start-up in a new, highly mechanized fulfillment center. As a result, our consultants partnered with senior management and the operations team to assess the root causes for the problems and create a plan of action to quickly get the facility capable of supporting demand during the upcoming spring and fall peaks. We organized several large project work streams to implement changes in MHE, WMS, wave planning, inventory accuracy, packing design, returns, and overall operating productivity. The project teams not only made a full recovery, but ended-up exceeding the businesses -ase metrics in the following year.
For a leading Omnichannel retailer, our consultants’ Program Management Office (PMO) capabilities have kept two separate strategic and growth-oriented projects tracking according to schedule and business goals. Project One involves an extensive retrofit of a large existing retail operation to provide improved cycle time and store services with a highly automated material handling footprint. Project Two includes the outsourcing of a division’s eCommerce fulfillment operations to a large 3PL provider. Our role has included supporting review of contracts; working with 3PL and internal teams to create and manage detailed requirements, schedule, and milestones; assessment of IT integration; and creating various levels of communications to keep the various parties informed, from core team to executives. The involvement of our independent PMO capabilities made sure easy and tough questions are asked, augmented internal teams with capable program management, and provided a focused view on managing and mitigating budget, schedule, and performance risks.