Distributor and third-party logistics services provider (3PL) Trinity Supply Chain Solutions needed to find a way to streamline parts management for one of its large OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers. And as happens so often these days, technology turned out to provide the perfect solution.
Specializing in hardware and components distribution, parts management, and product delivery services, Trinity supplies and manages parts for a wide range of customers, many of them in the agriculture business. Under its vendor-managed inventory (VMI) program, the company manages the flow of parts into manufacturing facilities, making sure workers have what they need when they need it to assemble equipment. When workers at a John Deere plant—one of Trinity’s VMI clients—started submitting an unusually high number of urgent parts requests, Trinity turned to software solutions provider StrataFlows to get a handle on the situation.
“It was getting hard to keep track of things,” explains Jay Rudisill, Trinity’s warehouse manager. “We would constantly get hit with emails and phone calls about parts affecting production—because they didn’t have them.”
Trinity needed an automated solution to track and manage parts from multiple sources, all the way from request through fulfillment and delivery. StrataFlows’ cloud-based platform for material movement offers a series of software modules that centralize and streamline the process, eliminating the need for frantic emails and phone calls trying to track down parts.
Rudisill says Trinity was fielding 150 to 200 “hot part” requests per day from the Deere plant—urgent requests for parts that were missing or in short supply, and that were holding up production. StrataFlows’ “hot part” module put all the information in one place, giving coordinators in the plant an easy way to submit urgent online requests to Trinity, which had a team located in the nearby warehouse. From those requests, team members could see where the products were and either quickly pull an item from an inbound shipment before receipt or pick it from inventory to get it to the plant before it could snarl the assembly process.
“Before using the hot-part module, we found we would report an issue, only to find out we had some [of the parts] sitting on our dock,” explains Rudisill. “Now, we know if it is on a shipment and when it arrived.”
The implementation led to immediate improvement: Within a week, hot-part requests fell to about 10 to 15 per day, a 93% reduction. Recurring incidents also declined, thanks to data reporting that allows managers to drill down to the root cause of problems.
After making headway with the hot-part module, Trinity decided to conduct an internal audit of its workflows to see where else the software could improve its supply chain operations. Managers decided to apply a second module to address parts changes and substitutions—the “ACD,” or “add, change, delete,” process. The module was tailored for Trinity to add, change, or remove parts needed on an assembly line by allowing warehouse workers to quickly look up a needed part to see if it was located in another area of the plant or determine if there was an adequate substitute they could use instead. Like the hot-part module, the ACD module cut down on wasted time due to back-and-forth emails and phone calls to resolve such issues.
With two successful implementations under its belt, Trinity is now applying StrataFlows solutions internally.
“We’ve actually grown it to use basically companywide,” says Rudisill, adding that the software is user-friendly, allowing employees to get up to speed and comfortable with the system within a few hours. “My warehouse alone uses it for inbound receiving. If we need to cycle-count something [or] if we have employee issues or errors, we apply it there as well. We took what we were using originally and grew it into our own.”