David Barry Logistics (DBL) is a leading logistics warehousing company specialising in the storage of dangerous goods. Established in 2006, the firm’s Melbourne facility can store up to 12,000 pallets of different substances including gases, flammable and toxic liquids and paints. All are kept under strict conditions in accordance with relevant safety requirements.
DBL’s clients use the firm as a ‘silent partner’, working in the background to provide safe storage and delivery of substances to their end customers. DBL’s 27 staff serve more than 30 different companies around Australia.
As part of its drive to provide the best possible service to its customers, DBL implemented InfoMotion ERP almost nine years ago. While the software provided back-end support for internal operations, it wasn’t embraced by clients in the way the company had expected.
DBL DC Manager, Belinda Kelly ,explains, “Initially our customers did not see a benefit in linking their internal systems to our ERP platform. However, this is gradually starting to change.”
About six months ago, one of the firm’s largest clients decided to link its internal SAP ERP installation directly to DBL’s InfoMotion platform. The move significantly reduced the need for manual processes and streamlined the shipment of goods between the warehouse and that client’s customers.
“Prior to this change, many of our processes were paper based,” says Kelly. “The client would send us an email or a fax and the details would have to be manually inputted by our staff. Now, as soon as they raise an order on SAP, it prints out here.”
With the benefits of integration becoming clear for DBL, the company decided to take a further step and remove paper from all activities on the warehouse floor. Handheld scanners, capable of reading both RFID tags and barcodes were installed and linked directly to the InfoMotion ERP software.
“Prior to this move, our storemen had been wasting a lot of time walking back and forth from the warehouse floor to the offices with paperwork,” says Kelly. “Every time details, such as an order’s weight and size, changed it meant a trip back to the office and more paperwork.”
Now, details can be checked and altered directly from the warehouse floor using the readers. Each storage location has an RFID tag and each pallet is barcoded for easy identification and tracking.
Every time new items enter the warehouse they are scanned and allocated to a storage space. All details are transmitted to the InfoMotion ERP system without the need for any paper or manual administrative processes.
Kelly says that, as soon as the reader terminals were in place and staff trained in their use, business benefits were immediately visible. “As soon as we began using it, it started to deliver savings,” she says. “In the warehouse we were able to reduce staff from four to three overnight.”
Kelly says DBL has a number of mature workers and there was some concern they would not feel comfortable with using the new technology. However, these fears were unfounded with storemen “loving it” from the start. “They can even send email from the scanners, which is something they couldn’t do before. It’s become very popular.”
As well as efficiency improvements, Kelly says the integrated warehouse infrastructure has provided other benefits not initially expected. “It has automated our admin systems for customer billing,” she says. “Previously, when materials required new labels to meet dangerous goods requirements, they would have been recorded on paper and then entered into the billing system. Now this happens automatically.”
The company has also found a significant improvement when it comes to stocktaking.
The annual process, which used to take a full week, can now be completed in just two days. “The administrative savings, stock take savings and productivity improvements have been extra benefits we didn’t initially think we would get out of the system,” says Kelly. “We have been able to reduce our administrative costs by around 25 per cent.”
Thanks to the InfoMotion ERP platform and the hand-held scanners, the efficiency of DBL’s overall operations continues to climb. Kelly says the office team was already performing at industry-leading levels, but even this has moved up a notch.
“Our accuracy is amazing,” she says. “We had already been running at 99.5 per cent accuracy, but now we are regularly seeing rates hit 100 per cent. It’s great stuff.”
With its largest customer now directly linked to DBL’s InfoMotion ERP, the firm expects others to follow. This will help to further reduce administrative overheads and improve service levels for end customers.
“RFID technology has been around for a long time, but to get real value from it you have to get your clients to agree on standards for codes,” says Kelly. “Once this happens, the benefits you can achieve are very significant.”
Kelly says DBL is planning a concerted effort in 2015 to encourage more clients to integrate their back-end systems with InfoMotion. As well as efficiency improvements, such integration allows things such as the automatic inclusion of client logos and details on all paperwork.
“The benefits have really started to snowball and we see this continuing,” says Kelly. “I am constantly amazed at just how much the InfoMotion ERP system and our scanners have changed the way we operate.”