Warehouse Logistics Optimization

United Distribution Services (UDS) is an established presence in the textile warehousing industry, known for innovation in freight and logistics services. Founded in 1995, the privately owned and operated 3PL got its start in the motor freight transportation sector. Consequently, UDS company culture is a standout among competitors as particularly in tune with manufacturer and retailer priorities. 


Supply Chain Planning and Execution

UDS invests significant resources, time, and energy into advising customers to make the right logistics decisions to ensure optimal efficiency and cost savings. The company’s leadership believes in harnessing the power of technology to customers’ advantage, making QSSI an ideal partner. Both our companies ultimately want to liberate clients from supply chain planning and execution, freeing up time and resources for them to focus on primary business functions: manufacturing, marketing, and sale of goods.

Fortune 500 manufacturers and retailers turn to UDS to solve logistics challenges, but so do designers wanting to move their well-structured start-ups to the next level. The company has collaborated for years with experts in warehouse material handling, engineering, and design. 

The goal is to leverage the latest technological development to raise customers to the next level of productivity and competitiveness. QSSI followed a similar strategy when initiating discussions about the effectiveness of UDS processes related to warehouse management, execution, and controls.

To effectively leverage technology, we started by asking UDS pointed questions about their current WMS. Could it provide detailed answers to inquiries, like “How is handling different (or more difficult) this time?” We learned that critical information, such as the precise cost and time investment to fulfill an order, was absent from decision-making protocol.

I had worked with other WMS software in the past and understood the potential for improved CRM. But, ROI for PowerHouse is exponential. With implementation, we went from 10 users to more than 100. You learn PowerHouse, you can now do whatever you want with it, which means my WMS and my company grow together.

Carl Ingargiola, President, UDS
Strategies for Rapid Response to New Customer Demand

For UDS operations to expand exponentially, their WMS needed to support the rapid onboarding of new customers. PowerHouse successfully connects various new revenue streams with a series of warehouse functions and services. UDS now had the ability to configure, reconfigure, and scale its operations (equipment, people, space) in response to evolving customer demands—without expensive modifications to the WMS application.

PowerHouse also supports multiple business models simultaneously—another key strategy employed by UDS to meet increased customer demand. In response to the shift in recent years to Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) shipping, UDS has engineered fulfillment processes and procedures to position its partners to meet their online consumer’s immediate expectations. 

Communication is the key to converting process changes into business opportunities. PowerHouse is a systems integrator for complementary supply chain management software and for all leading e-commerce, marketplace, and carrier software, including shopping carts and customer portals. Therefore, we worked effectively with UDS to handle volume fluctuations flawlessly and at a moment’s notice. Increased flexibility also translated into reduced overhead and the ability to specify a fixed cost per unit.

Tactics Employed for a High-Volume Operation

UDS is an exceptionally high-volume operation, as demonstrated by the 200+ packing stations that keep business booming. The QSSI team partnered with UDS to identify and develop optimal solutions for a full range of customer requirements, from shipping DTC via an e-com site to drop shipping via a carrier. Orders are mapped specific to their type, e.g., flagged as e-com.

UDS is giving its customers the ability to compete with the largest e-com outlets out there. Orders are processed instantly, leaving the warehouse within 12 hours from when the transaction was first initiated.

Ed Troianello, President, QSSI

Through constant reporting, PowerHouse delivers high-level order management and oversight. Quality, actionabledata is made available for informed decision-making. According to the UDS website, automated reporting, among many factors, contributes to the company’s “impeccable fill rates and turns.”

  • Item velocity analysis
  • Pick flow setup
  • Inventory count
  • Location accuracy

Clear order visibility is another important strategy for delivering within a high-volume operation. UDS keeps its customers informed through many PowerHouse capabilities, including transmitting EDI transactions, pushing order status, and tracking information. UDS can also send a branded, yet personalized, email alert, generated by Powerhouse and containing all order information, tracking numbers, and customer service contact information.

Consolidated Dedicated Returns Processing

UDS prioritizes returns processing. The company has dedicated facilities to handle vendors and retailers’ consolidated return services. PowerHouse is an integral part of this process, as well as key to capturing revenue through additional efficiencies and improved customer satisfaction.

A multi-pronged approach ensures the timely reconciliation of return charge backs and consumer credits. UDS leverages as much PowerHouse data as possible to monitor returns volume, eliminate manual data entry, apply credits, and quickly refurbish and transfer goods back to appropriate fulfillment centers. 

PowerHouse captures and monitors data on multiple levels.

  • Return authorization validation
  • Carton level ASN EDI 180
  • Quality inspection
  • Refurbishing to first quality condition
  • Damage and disposal maintenance
  • Trend analysis and advanced BI reporting
A Reliable Partner in Retail Distribution

“Accuracy, accountability, and speed” are the crucial factors in the retail distribution pick & pack environment, according to UDS. The company maintains a 99.98% financial and statistical inventory, achieved through “stringent receiving variance approval procedures, obsessive cycle counting, and utilization of UPC and RFID barcode scanning” (UDS website, 2021). 

All these disciplined procedures are sustained through PowerHouse.

United Distribution Services

Cranbury, NJ

Distribution Center
  • 2,000,000 square feet
Customers
  •  Apparel
  • Home goods
  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
Warehouse Environment
  • Garment-on-Hanger and flat pick & pack fulfillment
  • Just-in-time retail replenishment
  • Direct-To-Consumer shipping
  • Same-day e-commerce fulfillment
  • Full case distribution
  • Retail deconsol/consolidation
  • Domestic transportation
  • Overseas pre-packs
Solutions in the Design
  • Systematic wave modeling
  • Bulk pick line zones
  • Scale counting
  • Pick-to-light
  • Flow racking
  • Automated customized compliance labeling
  • Automated rate shopping
  • Reserve to active replenishment location

Rapid E-Commerce Fulfillment

Independent family-owned retailer Rogers Sporting Goods is a formidable player in the sporting and recreational equipment industry. The company is a self-described provider of hunting gear for “the serious outdoor enthusiast” and routinely outsells larger competitors by offering more selection at the right prices. 


Supporting Omnichannel Sales Experiences & Service

Rogers has established a strong brand presence online and through its brick-and-mortar store. Consequently, their warehousing strategy is as agile as their business model. 

One-touch integration across both real and virtual channels gives our client a competitive advantage in a saturated market where suppliers typically try to be everything to everybody. Rogers, in contrast, is recognized globally for giving waterfowlers and hunters exactly what they want and for less. In just a few years, the company experienced substantial growth potential and, in response, initiated a major facilities expansion and an overhaul of order fulfillment processes. 

Location Visibility & Fast Inventory Reconciliation

PowerHouse delivered on a truly integrated platform by supporting clear product location visibility and fast inventory reconciliation, essentials for fast-paced, “real-time, all the time” warehousing. “We’re busy all year round,” explained Brett Patton, Snr. Purchasing Agent. “Lot traceability and live e-commerce are critical, because we’re moving inventory all the time.” 

Upstream & Downstream Data Analysis

As important, PowerHouse gave Rogers the ability to reach beyond their warehouse to gather upstream order information and downstream transportation data. We helped our client decrease dependence on safety stock and streamline open-to-buy budget planning, all while enhancing customer experiences.

“We knew that if we could expand our offerings, we could expand our customer base. Because the QSSI team could think outside-the-warehouse-box about output and potential efficiencies, we had the support we needed to double our business. And, by ‘double our business’ I mean double our output, said Patton.” 

Live in 6 Months! Accelerated WMS Deployment

Rogers moved into a new shell office building and implemented a new WMS in an expanded warehouse facility—all within the course of 6 months. The fast-paced project evolved in phases, each characterized by a new juncture in PowerHouse’s development. Rogers’ WMS went live with the initial set-up of the company’s main warehouse. We then configured and made the retail store operational, followed by the second floor picking mezzanine. 

The capacity to “configure and then reconfigure” in near-real-time is the key to a successful outcome for a complex WMS implementation. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” said Rogers’ warehouse manager, which necessitates demonstrating and testing the system sooner, rather than later.

Smart Warehousing during Company Transition

Significantly, the QSSI team migrated the new warehouse into live mode as the physical components were put in place. Move-in was happening as we built the system and integrated various elements. For instance, we configured the majority of WMS requirements for the mezzanine before it was  built. We also imported inventory into PowerHouse to provide data loading initially for a partial go-live. Our objective was to support business development during  the company’s transition; Rogers’ sales team had accurate data for their webpage. 

Effective Phased WMS Deployment

QSSI adopted an iterative approach to Rogers’ WMS deployment. To connect our client’s various revenue streams, we formulated a series of functions and services, tested the methodology incrementally and frequently, and then evaluated the results based on the latest feedback and evolving business requirements.

According to Roger Saarimaki, Snr. Application Specialist at  QSSI, “Effective phased deployments require constantly monitoring system configurations for changes that can improve efficiency or meet new data requirements.” Rogers’ new dashboard displays order status, work specifics, and any backlogs, which enables operations to respond in real time.

Key Integration Points for WMS Deployment

Integration needed to be in stages to meet Rogers’ ambitious deployment objectives. 

Once the warehouse was set-up, we worked on increasing speed and volume, followed by the integration of the retail store data. The QSSI team started with existing warehouse data. We matched rules to current restocking and picking requirements. As throughput increased, we further configured the locations and tweaked the rules to match. We subsequently addressed the retail store locations in a similar way. Finally, with the configuration of the second floor mezzanine, we could migrate to live as the physical structure was being built.

We based the ongoing changes on new processes to support the host data, as needed. The goal was and continues to be continuous improvement. Ultimately, PowerHouse doubled our client’s previous shipping capacity—without doubling their staff. 

Reducing the Day-to-Day Complexity of Order Fulfillment Operations

PowerHouse agility is also evident in improvements in operational efficiencies and workforce productivity. Rogers can now more easily adapt to shipping variations (ship ready, ship alone, etc.) and count on accurate, precise parcel measurements every time. But, perhaps the greatest cost savings came with the introduction of new processes for reducing time and touches.

Rather than significantly increasing the number of workers on the floor to meet increased demand, PowerHouse made Rogers’ existing labor more efficient. Cartons that don’t require repackaging (or a pack station) prior to shipping can now be picked, labeled, and shipped under one continuous procedure. Carrier compliant labels are printed from a mobile device when the carton is scanned. The worker simply “slaps” on the label and drops the carton at the conveyor to the truck. The fact that the carrier system is fully integrated with the TMS adds another level of seamless execution.

Flexible Order Picking Systems & Methods 

The inherent efficiency of the “slapper” process has resulted in more nuanced responses, e.g., only under certain circumstances is a case pick sent by itself. For Rogers, we configured such criteria in PowerHouse to recognize atypical conditions and to create case picking. Again, there is no need to send the item to a pack station for extra handling. In addition, the item will not incur extra shipping charges.

Similarly, oversized items can lead to uncommon picking scenario configurations. Rogers’ pick module includes reusable totes, but certain items arrive in boxes too big to fit into those totes. As a result, the tote and large carton picks need to arrive at the pack station together to implement the most cost-effective solution, i.e., tote picks packedinside cartons. In these situations, PowerHouse can connect a tote pick with a large carton in the same zone by having the carton “train”  after the tote. The pair move together to the next zone or pack station.

For Rogers, increased flexibility has meant adaptation—the ability to match their WMS to their warehouse environment over time.

ROGERS SPORTING GOODS

Kansas City, MO

Distribution Center
  • 200,000 square feet
  • Double (2-level) pick module
  • Fully RF enabled
Stock
  • 40,000+ SKUs
Warehouse Environment
  • Bulk purchasing
  • Low minimum orders
  • Just-in-time delivery
  • Same-day delivery
  • High volume returns 
    and exchanges
Solutions in the Design
  • Identifying labor in/efficiencies—at individual worker level
  • Picking in real-time (interfaces in seconds)
  • Scale counting and scan & pack—for easy picking and re-stocking
  • Automating customized compliance labeling
  • Automating rate shopping—for best shipping rate
  • Order tracking—visibility for customer, too

Warehousing for a Global Supply Chain

Most companies need business insights, not more data, to expand their operations. To combine information with analysis is to find meaning and a greater understanding of your current situation, with the goal of moving forward. A full stack WMS toolset is a start, but the ability to leverage data from multiple systems (TMS, OMS, LMS, etc.) is a competitive advantage. In the case of our client Standard Fiber, PowerHouse delivered on a number of levels: executive access, customer access, and insight access into their business. With these insights, they extended and then built new revenue channels.


Standard Fiber’s Expansion into New Markets

One of the largest producers of bedding textiles in the world is also a unique model for product development, manufacturing, and distribution. Standard Fiber is the first company in its industry to combine US and UK based innovation with manufacturing capabilities in Asia. Our client offers customers a seamless supply chain experience with access to advanced textile technologies and a premier design-development team, plus the significant cost savings of working with manufacturers in Pakistan, India, and China.

QSSI aligned our client’s warehousing with their ambitious expansion into new lucrative business partnerships.

Early Adaptation in Standard Fiber’s Warehouse

WMS easy scalability and rapid deployment helped our client harness a competitive advantage, specifically, in the bundling of bedding with other products, including mail order mattresses. Achieving this new bundling capability was instrumental in the company’s expansion.

Chris Thornton, EDI/Operations Specialist at Standard Fiber, described the difficult conditions that marked the early days of breaking into a new market. Meeting retailers’ immediate requirements for increased EDI capacity meant implementing the new WMS while dealing with accelerated schedules, high volumes, and complex global logistics.

Thornton credited QSSI with keeping both software and hardware on track and error-free, “QSSI’s people brought a ‘yes, we can do that’ attitude and the timeline for accomplishing the job.”

Smooth Implementation and Rapid Deployment

QSSI helps deliver a seamless customer experience as Standard Fiber scales up to meet increased demand.

Multiple new channels (and new clients) have since been added, but the first “bedding bundle” order was a short 9-week undertaking requiring an overhaul of Standard Fiber’s operations. Rather than significantly increasing the number of workers on the floor to accommodate the additional orders, PowerHouse made existing labor more efficient. We made the floor fully RF enabled and implemented a new process for reducing time and touches.

Cartons that don’t require repackaging (or a pack station) prior to shipping, e.g., bundled mattresses and bedding, can now be picked, labeled, and shipped under one continuous procedure. Carrier compliant labels are printed from a mobile device when the carton is scanned. The worker simply “slaps” on the label and drops the carton at the conveyor to the truck. The fact that the carrier system is fully integrated with the TMS adds another level of seamless execution.

Ultimately, PowerHouse enabled the company to transition to a drop-ship-to-consumer mode while increasing orders by as much as 900% per day.

Custom End-to-End Solutions and EDI Integration

Standard Fiber’s customers expect and receive reliable ecommerce fulfillment support for finished products. Because reputation is built on reliability, it’s important to make continuous improvements in the WMS process and product. You want your WMS to evolve with new business objectives. Chris Thornton, EDI/Operations Specialist at Standard Fiber, put it this way, “When opportunity knocks, you need the backend architecture to take advantage.” He explained, “You want to grow and scale quickly without worrying about system capacity.”

For Standard Fiber, individualized end-to-end solutions have resulted from ongoing collaborative consultation with the QSSI team. For example, we helped the company gain more from their EDI and achieve 100% compliance with their retailers. PowerHouse managed the orders fast enough to handle immense upticks in volume—at times, swelling from 300 orders per week to more than 3,000 per day.

We also integrated PowerHouse with Standard Fiber’s EDI VAN, providing the necessary data for their cloud-based supply chain management software (SPS) to feed their EDI requirements back to customers. PowerHouse leverages the data from multiple systems to “know when to send orders to fulfillment,” said Thornton.

Accessing Information for What Comes Next

For Standard Fiber, we delivered a solution that takes the entire customer journey into account when managing data. Furthermore, this solution is also extensible. Access to a continuous, reliable source of data—such as KPIs at both the facility and enterprise levels—empowers our client to keep making adjustments and improvements in response to an evolving business environment. Wherever Standard Fiber takes their business, we’ll be there to support them.

STANDARD FIBER

Las Vegas, NV

HQ & Distribution Centers
  • 4 corporate campuses
  • QC lab (textile testing)
  • 140+ Global Suppliers
Customers
  • manufacturers
  • distributors
  • retailers
Stock
  • 560,000+ catalogue items
  • 2,500+ SKUs
Supply Chain
  • China
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • Vietnam
  • Brazil
  • Cambodia
Warehouse Environment
  • Textiles warehousing
  • Omnichannel supply chains
  • Complicated sourcing requests
  • Multiple distribution centers
  • Individualized labeling
  • Drop-ship to consumer
  • Just-in-time delivery
Solutions in the Design
  • Fully integrated platform
  • Full visibility
  • Picking in real-time
  • Scale counting and scan & pack
  • Automated customized
    compliance labeling
  • Automated rate shopping

Warehouse Operations & Reverse Logistics

Strengthen the chain of custody across your supply chain by achieving complete visibility over your reverse logistics and delivery processes.

PowerHouse syncs your entire supply chain, from inventory management to logistics operations to transportation management systems. Only this level of integration can ensure a seamless, cost-effective process when introducing reverse logistics. Our WMS has the capacity to push products immediately back to market.


Plan for Unplanned Reverse Logistics

A robust WMS system provides the necessary infrastructure to anticipate and quickly react to on-demand movements of products. Significantly, it’s time lost to reprocessing that represents the greatest hit to your bottom line. PowerHouse provides process controls with full visibility, from any point in the supply chain, for the fastest resale possible.

  1. Know the order number—for both logistics provider and retailer.
  2. Identify the reason for a return.
  3. Apply quality and condition codes.
  4. Create and process Return Materials Authorizations (RMA).
  5. Combine demand returns with planned deliveries.
Support Supply Chain Agility

Your chain of supply has the potential to respond quickly and effectively to evolving customer requirements, providing multiple paths for the disposition of goods.

  1. Returns to the manufacturer
  2. Refurbishment
  3. Available and promise inventories
  4. Disposal

PowerHouse process controls move goods back to available inventory or as needed. The comprehensive system allows items to be easily inducted and assigned conditions that will enable system-directed moves to process the inventory efficiently.

Manage the Customer Experience

Understand that your customer is as invested in the returns experience as he or she is in a seamless delivery process.

  1. Provide full visibility over the returns process.
  2. Address operational inefficiencies before your customer is affected.
  3. Automate initial steps, such as return requests, scheduling, barcodes.

PowerHouse captures additional revenues that would have been lost by a less supportive WMS.

TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW
Who’s Impacted
  • distributors
  • retailers
  • logistics providers
  • supply chain managers
  • manufacturers
Key Features
  • high-volume returns processing
  • linked returns process and delivery order
  • reason for a return captured
  • discrete inventory tracking through grading
  • quality standards inspection
Integration Touch Points
  • notifications (RMA)
  • EDI and ASN
  • available/as needed inventory
  • store inventory
Specialty Functions
  • apparel product variants
  • publishing logistics
  • spare parts management
  • recycling/green initiatives
  • hazmat handling directions
  • proof of disposal
  • shelf life information