You may never have heard of Lifetime Brands, but chances are, you have several of their products in your kitchen.
Lifetime is the designer, manufacturer and distributor of many well-known houseware brands, including Pfaltzgraff, Hoffritz, Casa Moda and Roshco. It also handles cookware and utensils under the licenses of KitchenAid, Farberware, and Cuisinart, among others.
In 2001, the company consolidated its three manual distribution operations into one highly effective facility in Robbinsville, N.J. In designing this new building, Lifetime sought to move to paperless processing to better control its distribution and allow it to increase its volume and throughput capabilities.
To meet these objectives, Lifetime chose a combination of software solutions from Microsoft and RedPrairie to coordinate its supply chain, manage its inventory, direct its fulfillment processes and provide real-time visibility throughout.
"We now have system tools in place that provide instant information on inventory, warehouse space, expected receipts, orders in our system and outbound shipments, as well as details of all processes in the work queue," explains Craig Phillips, senior vice president of distribution. "We are now a paperless, system-directed operation."
At the corporate level, Microsoft Dynamics GP (Lifetime's ERP software) gathers information on purchased and manufactured merchandise and then sends advance ship notices to the RedPrairie DLx Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) at the Robbinsville distribution center. This allows the facility to properly receive and process the goods, including directed putaway.
Customer orders are also received and handled through Microsoft Dynamics GP. These are downloaded to the RedPrairie WMS at the distribution center for fulfillment. The WMS then directs replenishment tasks and order filling, with instructions relayed to lift-truck operators and pickers via radio frequency (RF) devices.
Full cases make up the majority of products needed for orders. The higher-velocity items are selected directly onto conveyor belts in four pick towers using pick labels. The WMS also directs split case picking from flow racks and shelving utilizing RF scanners. Some items are additionally sent to a value-added area for special ticketing, kitting and packing, also coordinated through the WMS.
Once all items have been gathered and shipped, the RedPrairie WMS sends a confirmation back to the Microsoft Dynamics GP solution verifying that the order has been completed and products have left the DC.
Throughout the entire distribution network, managers have the information they need to properly control workflow.
"One of the strengths of our system is that the data gives us tremendous visibility to manage our people and our processes," Phillips says.
Going paperless has also allowed Lifetime to expand its product line while creating peak daily throughputs of 40,000 cases. In addition, inventory accuracy is a very high 99.9 percent and picking accuracy is well in excess of 99 percent.
RFID will be another process added this year at the DC. The RFID tagging operation will utilize RedPrairie's RFID solution, which integrates directly with the WMS. And early this summer, RedPrairie's DLx Labor module will also be deployed at Robbinsville.
"That will generate even more efficiencies in operations and increase visibility of work flow for every associate and manager in the facility," adds Phillips.
For more information on RedPrairie solutions, call 877-733-7724 or visit www.redprairie.com.
For more information on Microsoft Dynamics GP, call 888-477-7989 or visit www.microsoft.com/dynamics.