Genuine OEM restaurant equipment parts provider Parts Town is a guiding light in the industry when it comes to its relentless pursuit of supply chain execution success. And the team has a knack for innovative approaches to solving challenges to boot. Director of Process Improvement Kenny William teamed up with Scott Halvorson, Sr. Director of 4SIGHT’s HighJump WMS Practice, to share this remarkable story during Elevate 2018. In addition, William was one of four winners of HighJump’s Inaugural Customer Innovation Awards in the “Thinking Outside of the Box” category for his ongoing quest to improve operations with creative technology solutions.
The Parts Town Story
Since 1987, Parts Town has been providing the foodservice industry with genuine OEM restaurant equipment parts. In 2015 the company implemented HighJump’s warehouse management system (WMS) to replace older technology that could no longer support their fast-paced operation. HighJump's adaptable functionality allowed Parts Town to further deepen their customer and vendor relationships with critical innovations.
In the fall of 2016, William discovered AutoStore® via their partner Bastian Solutions. Seeing the advanced goods-to-person technology got his wheels turning. Not only did he see the potential for faster picking, but the compact nature of AutoStore would also maximize floorspace and provide a path for fast expansion as the company continued to grow.
“Seeing the AutoStore technology spurred discussion of moving to a new warehouse sooner than we’d planned,” William said. “We basically signed the lease for the new building, got the keys, hung the lights, and built AutoStore.” Although accustomed to configuring solutions internally, the daunting combination of moving warehouses while configuring AutoStore prompted William to seek outside expertise. “We were in over our heads and needed to review all our processes,” he said, adding that Parts Town would have to operate out of two buildings for several months as inventory and equipment were transitioned from the old facility to the new one. And for AutoStore, there were also numerous software components that needed to communicate so orders could flow from the ERP to the HighJump WMS to the warehouse control system (WCS) to AutoStore.
Integrating the AutoStore Goods-to-Person Technology
As a first step, William worked with Bastian Solutions to design and physically build their AutoStore solution, specifically tailored to Parts Town's growth needs. Bastian Solutions also provided a WCS to serve as the control system between the AutoStore internal software and the HighJump WMS. To do the critical work of interfacing the HighJump WMS with the WCS, William called on 4SIGHT Supply Chain Group. He had first met with 4SIGHT at Elevate 2017, remembering an impactful presentation the 4SIGHT team had given. William brought the 4SIGHT team on board to partner with Parts Town, to collaboratively design the integration between the HighJump WMS and the WCS-AutoStore interface. Following the design phase, 4SIGHT did all of the expert HighJump WMS programming needed to make that interface a reality.
A Four-Fold Increase in Picking Speed and Maximized Floor Space
The powerful 4SIGHT-Bastian Solutions-HighJump-AutoStore combination has achieved impressive results for Parts Town. Today, Parts Town’s AutoStore has 15,100 bins, 21 robots, and six ports—four for picking and two for put-away. William recently reported that the team completes over 45 percent of its picking from AutoStore. “We’ve been able to alleviate a lot of stress in our picking area,” he said. “Employees really like it. It’s easy to learn, and they can pick at blazing speed from day one.”
Before the solution was in place, an associate could pick 300 lines per day. With AutoStore, pickers can pick almost four times that rate. AutoStore takes up 2 percent of the warehouse’s total floor space, and by bringing goods directly to the pickers, cuts down on over 100 miles per day of picker walking. William also likes that he can build onto the AutoStore grid while operations are running, with no downtime. “We designed our AutoStore for a 10-year planning horizon and can expand eight times if needed, up to 140,000 bins,” he said.
To learn more about 4SIGHT’s experience optimizing the HighJump solution suite, please visit: www.go4sight.com/highjump