In this look back at one of Elevate 2019's track sessions, we see how Brightstar’s robust inventory tracking systems helped optimize operations and boost picking efficiency.
Brightstar delivers one out of every 23 devices sold worldwide and serves customers in 57 countries around the world. As mobile technology becomes increasingly widespread, the company is leading the way in providing end-to-end device lifestyle solutions for carriers, retailers, and enterprises.
The company has two warehouses and approximately 2,000 full-time and temp workers. In an average week, Brightstar receives one million units, ships one million units, and accepts approximately 300,000 returned devices through buy-back and trade-in programs.
Managing such large-scale operations is no small feat. To get their products from A to B and, in some cases, back to A again, Brightstar requires the support of an agile, technology-driven supply chain management partner.
Tracking Units with Confidence
“Before bringing HighJump on board, Brightstar leveraged a very standard in/out serialization process,” explains Jackie Bennecke, Senior Operations Project Manager at Brightstar. “Supply chain managers knew when a serial came into the warehouse and when it went out, but where in the warehouse it existed in the interim — that was anybody’s best guess.”
Whenever they needed to locate a specific batch of serials, Brightstar warehouse employees had to remove pallets from the warehouse shelves and search by hand until they located the appropriate batch. This time-consuming process made reaching peak productivity and picking efficiency nearly impossible.
But this scenario isn’t unique to Brightstar. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average U.S. warehouse wastes 6.9 weeks per year on unnecessary motion. This costs the industry $4.3 billion, or 265 million hours of labor annually. For Brightstar — and thousands of other companies across the globe — overcoming these productivity hurdles is a must.
Joining forces with HighJump, Brightstar implemented a sophisticated serialized bin tracking system. Now the company can begin tracking a serial the moment it’s received from the original equipment manufacturer. These tracking capabilities continue as thousands of serials move through the warehouse, ship to customers, and, in some cases, return to the warehouse, allowing supply chain managers to follow and report on the entire serial lifecycle.
Keeping Discrepancies in the Warehouse at Bay
A National Retail Security Survey estimates that in 2019, shrinkage (the loss of warehouse inventory as a result of theft, error, or damage) cost businesses an astounding $50.6 billion. As cellphones are particularly high-value, if even just three of them are misplaced, a significant amount of money is lost and questions are raised. For Brightstar, this means bin and unit accuracy must remain at an all-time high.
Since integrating automated warehouse management systems, the company has seen a 20 percent reduction in time invested in serial discrepancies. Brightstar supply chain managers now know exactly where each product is at all times — even when it’s moving between bins — thanks to serial validation during warehouse picking and parcel shipping.
On the rare occasion that an error does occur, knowing exactly which serial is missing allows Brightstar to quickly make the adjustment without having to sort through a paper trail.
“Historically, our warehouse managers had to implement a very lengthy bin adjustment process anytime a shortage or overage occurred,” says Bennecke. “For example, if five units were missing, we had to compare all of the serials we currently had with a spreadsheet of everything we were supposed to have. This was the only way to identify which serials needed to be adjusted. With the new serial tracking system, we can make this adjustment on the spot.”
Putting Effective FIFO Processes into Play in Warehouse Picking
“Agile” has become a buzzword across sectors as technology advances faster than ever before. In fact, 72 percent of executives believe their business model will be under threat within the next five years. The mobile device industry has become particularly familiar with this rapid rate of change. What was “in” one day is quickly “out” the next as bigger and better features emerge, necessitating a strict adherence to FIFO inventory management (first in, first out) in the warehouse.
Prior to working with HighJump, Brigthstar tracked FIFO receipt dates per bin. As such, devices had to remain untouched in their set bin until they were ready to be shipped, otherwise they would lose their receipt date and derail the existing FIFO process.
“Thanks to sophisticated serial systems that incorporate FIFO dates, we are now able to consolidate bins and relocate devices countless times — all while keeping tabs on each device’s unique FIFO date,” says Bennecke. “This helps us ensure we are managing our inventory as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Optimizing Operations With a Robust Inventory Tracking System
For Brightstar, innovative warehouse picking systems, transportation management solutions, and inventory tracking systems have taken the company’s warehouse management to new heights. With HighJump’s support, inventory picking and parcel shipping have become more efficient than ever before, improving day-to-day processes and procedures. Frontline employees and supervisors alike see fewer errors and, most importantly, better results.
This is just one success story shared at HighJump’s Elevate conference. Take at look at this year’s Elevate agenda and join us to see the supply chain of the future for yourself!