Black and Decker Outlet Chooses Provia

June 28, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Florida-based Applica Consumer Products has selected Grand Rapids-based Provia Software to help it operate three North American warehouse and distribution facilities. 

Applica is the exclusive distributor and marketer of Black & Decker household products.

The company also markets company-owned brand names such as Windmere, LitterMaid, and Jerdon, and private label brand names in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Provia created ViaWare to help clients manage an integrated supply chain fulfillment process that embraces warehousing, transportation, and order and yard operations.

Meanwhile, its ViaView will allow Applica staff — as well as Applica’s clients — to monitor inventory, orders and the shipment of products real-time from an Internet browser.

ViaView’s function is to eliminate the need for “fudge factors,” guesswork and assumptions from the supply chain.

Jim Brower, vice president of Supply Chain Applica, said the combination of those functions will help Applica “make smarter decisions and improve customer service throughout our supply chain.”

All the transactions being done in Applica’s three facilities — picking and packing, checking in purchase orders and sending out shipments — will all be aggregated in real time to the centralized data warehouse within ViaView, explained Paul Crist, Provia’s vice president of sales and marketing.

“With ViaView you have the ability to provide visibility to all that information both to your internal and external customers.

He explained that an Applica customer with the appropriate security clearance, for instance, could check on the status of his order or a supplier could check on the status of inventory of his product within Applica’s global distribution network.

Crist said ViaView alerts staff when some event in the supply chain occurs or doesn’t occur as planned. The software application also can be used as data warehouse for research and for spotting trends.

“Because we’re collecting all that information in real time, we’re also tracking it over time. You can look at different events that are occurring, correlate them together and trigger alerts off of that.”

Both internal and external alerts can be put in place.

For instance, it could be set up so that someone is alerted if a customer’s shipment goes out late for the third time.  

Applica’s facility in Little Rock, Ark. will be the first of the company’s three facilities to get outfitted with the new software and ready to go this fall.

Implementation at the other two sites, one in Miami and another in Toronto, is planned for next year.

Crist said the solution will be implemented in parallel with Applica’s operation in Little Rock.

The facility won’t have to be temporarily closed as the typical cut-over process is done over a weekend, he said. He said the operation keeps running but that volume shipped out of the facility the following week may be a little lower.

“Volume may dip for a week but then it picks back up to normal volumes and actually begins to accelerate beyond their normal volumes because of the efficiencies the applications provide,” Crist said.

Project plans call for a five-month implementation of the software because Provia needs to configure the application for Applica’s particular business requirements and to interface the application to Applica’s host computer system. 

Applica worked with Q4 Logistics, a logistics solutions company based in Santa Ana, Calif., to help redefine and reengineer its business processes. The client company is changing its business processes in order to implement a warehouse management system and Q4 helps them do that.

According to Provia, the two software applications working in unison can:

  • Reduce inventory by as much as 30 percent

  • Achieve 100 percent order fill rates

  • Reduce customer service costs as much as 50 percent

The critical benefit the applications provide is inventory accuracy, Crist said.

Companies that lack an accurate warehouse management system don’t know exactly how much inventory they have on hand. The people ordering for the company may make commitments that are beyond what the company actually has, so they keep extra stock in the warehouse to cover those situations, Crist explained.

“We can eliminate all that emergency stock because we know the inventory actually is 99.9 percent. We know what’s in the warehouse. So people making commitments for the order know what’s there and can commit the product and it ships. You don’t have to have the extra inventory sitting around.

“The benefit to the customer is reduced errors because the system is automated we know what’s going on in the facility.”

If there are any problems, he said, the system allows the distribution center manager to fix it before it ever becomes an issue for the customer.

“From a customer perspective there may be a problem with the order, but at least our system will notify them. Applica will be able to let their customers know in advance.

“It’s that ability to be proactive that really builds customer satisfaction.”

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