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.”
BR International (BRI) is an Australian company that is rapidly developing a reputation as a leading provider of global supply chain management solutions. The company provides its end-to-end supply chain solutions to a diverse range of organisations, from small businesses to large enterprises.
Established almost 40 years ago, BRI took on a new lease of live in the early 2000s when the company was acquired by current directors, Aaron Poole and Michael Bourne. Still in their thirties, the pair were enthusiastic, ambitious and had an eager eye for opportunity. Both were familiar with BRI and believed there was tremendous potential to grow the business.
In the nine years since, Poole and Bourne have worked constantly to achieve their vision. They have increased BRI’s scope of activity within Australia, embarked on a joint venture within Asia, and expanded their geographic coverage with the establishment of offices in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Holland and China. To keep pace with customer demand, the number of staff has jumped from 14 to 100.
And now, in 2013, BRI is looking for ways to gain a foothold in the lucrative North and South American markets. “Our aspiration is to continue to grow at the rate we’ve been growing,” Poole acknowledges.
Earlier this year, Poole was considering the systems and processes that BRI would need to support its next phase of growth when he realised that something wasn’t quite right.
“The warehouse is a very important part of our value added service. Orders arrive on a daily basis. Warehouse staff handle goods, forklift drivers shift pallets around the floor and we have a need to manage the outer and inner carton process. The need for a WMS [warehouse management system] tool to keep track of what is going on every single minute of the day is essential to our success. We found that our current system was not moving with the needs of our customers,” he explains.
“We had an in-house developed system that wasn’t able to grow with the business and clearly our competitiveness was suffering. In addition to this, clients’ needs and desires change on a regular basis so again our current system was not suitable.”
The company needed to implement the latest technologies – such as radio frequency [RF] and hand-held scanners, voice technology, advanced picking and packing capabilities – if it wanted to stay ahead of the competition and ensure higher levels of service to customers.
To find the right warehouse solution for BRI’s future, Poole prepared an RFP [request for proposal], outlining the company’s expectations. High on his list of essentials were ease of use and the ability to streamline functionality within the warehouse. The software had to be flexible, have room to grow, and be capable of integration with customer information systems. It had to offer value for money and ideally, Poole wanted a solution that was Australian owned, developed by a vendor committed to the logistics industry and who would be equally committed to BRI’s business.
At a technical level, Poole’s requirements included system to system integration, bar coding, complete back-office integration, real-time inventory updates, an RF capability with handheld technology extension, strong report management, advanced picking and labeling technology and inventory management through to allocation.
Critically, given BRI’s international activities, Poole also wanted the assurance of a system that had been successfully deployed overseas.
“In the end, we selected InfoMotion. Their system met our immediate RFQ so there was no need to add time for further customisation, and clearly, the company has done some research because they show a great understanding of what a third party logistics provider needs.”
Ever ambitious, Poole set a four-to-eight week deadline for deployment of the system at BRI’s Australian headquarters, a warehouse located in Sydney.
“It was an extremely aggressive target but we needed to get the system in,” Poole admits. “The existing system was not doing what was needed and labour costs were increasing as a result. InfoMotion saw our need, accepted the timing and were prepared to do whatever was required.”
As soon as the Sydney warehouse was up and running, Poole began planning further roll-outs for Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. These are now under way and are expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Although only one warehouse is currently operating on InfoMotion, Poole confirms the company is already receiving a return on the software investment. Automation has eliminated most manual practices in the warehouse, including the picking and receiving functions.
“This has allowed us to take between 100 and 120 hours of labour per week out of the Sydney operation,” Poole notes.
Order accuracy has improved and impressively, Poole says there has been a five per cent improvement in key performance indicators (KPIs) such as orders that are “Delivered in full on time” (DIFOT). Operating and inventory holding costs have been reduced. Productivity is on the rise, and management finally has full order visibility through to customer integration.
“The excitement for us is that we’re still in the birth stages. BRI has warehouses and offices all around the world so once we finish in Australia, our next step is to roll the system out globally, to warehouses in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ho Chi Minh, New Delhi, Rotterdam and more. We’ve already told InfoMotion that we want our China warehouses on line in early 2014 and we expect to have all sites completed by end of next year,” Poole concludes.
By then however, given Bourne and Poole’s determination to keep growing, BRI may need to start planning for addition deployments, only this time in the Americas.
Government hopes of reviving the moribund Tasmanian economy, and in the process boosting the performance of the Port of Melbourne depend largely on new advanced information technology processes to breathe new life into traditional shipping and rail equipment.
Examples in the last few days have included a vastly more efficient warehousing approach for getting Tasmanian export orders to the mainland without consignment mistakes an double handling, and progress on a new rail management system to speed up rail freight consignments.
In their likely overall effects, these technical and engineering developments, of initial interest primarily to engineering and electronics specialists, will eventually be shown to have wide significance for general political campaigning and relationships, given their likely crucial importance for economic recovery in southern Australia.
SeaRoad Logistics, one of Tasmania’s biggest transport companies, is hoping installation of a new warehouse management system that will integrate with SeaRoad’s existing financial and transport software, will overcome a lot of the penalties of operating over a stretch of water, Bass St, which can be stormy, subject to industrial pressures and sea transfer delays.
The InfoMotion warehouse management system, which will integrate with SeaRoad’s existing financial and transport software, will clearly identify all their inventory at SeaRoad’s warehousing facilities located on both sides of Bass Strait, at Bell Bay, Devonport, Evandale, Launceston and Hobart in Tasmania as well as in Webb Dock, Melbourne. The company operates 20,000+ square metres of warehousing space within these facilities.
InfoMotion’s warehouse management software is a paperless system that caters to all modern contract logistics practices enabling organisations to manage stock control, support RF scanning, automate pricing, deliver customised reporting, and reduce potential errors and time spent on customer queries. It also enables automation and a reduction in double keying data from the warehousing ERP platform to the financial system providing real-time visibility and end-to-end traceability.
“We selected InfoMotion following a comprehensive market review and chose the best-of-breed solution based on its highly configurable features, extensive reporting ability, EDI interface and flexible pricing structure. InfoMotion will support our growing warehousing services in both Tasmania and the mainland,” Edwin Cassar said, Group Technology Manager, SeaRoad Holdings.
Michael Kilgariff, managing director of the Australian Logistics Council, has welcomed the signing of a contract to progress the advanced train management system, which will hugely improve Australian rail freight management. An example for Tasmania will be much better handling of the extensive food exports by rail to Brisbane, where speed and effective handling are major considerations.
“To maximise freight efficiency we need to harness 21st century technologies, and so industry welcomes the agreement between the Australian Rail Track Corporation and Lockheed Martin Australia to implement the ATMS,” Mr Kilgariff said.
“ATMS is a smart train management system that can locate and control trains on the network allowing them to travel safely at closer intervals.
“The technology employs sophisticated computer technology, on-train GPS navigation and Next-G mobile networks to manage train operations.
“This is ‘innovation in action’ which will transform the way freight rail infrastructure is both managed and monitored,” he said.
The use of smart technology under ATMS, including collision avoidance systems to prevent accidents, was exactly the sort of initiative industry needed to boost freight efficiency and to underpin a safer and more reliable network. With Australia’s freight task predicted to double by 2030 and nearly triple by 2050, Australia needed big increases in rail interstate and intrastate movements.
This reality underscored ALC’s strong support for the inland freight line between Melbourne and Brisbane and port shuttles to improve the movement of freight to and from our major ports.
The partnership between ARTC and Lockheed Martin Australia to deliver the ATMS project would help facilitate this growth in freight.
Mr Kilgariff said economic analysis undertaken by ALC showed initiatives like the ATMS project would help to deliver broader economic benefits in the billions of dollars.
“A report from ACIL Allen to ALC found a 1 per cent improvement in the efficiency of the sector generates $2 billion of gains to the economy each year,” he said.
“Future-focused technology like ATMS enhances the cost-effectiveness of the way we move products around Australia’s rail system.
“ATMS will help support industry’s efforts to improve freight efficiency, and in so doing, deliver economic benefits for all Australians,” he said.