Highlights officials decided to bring ESYNC back into the loop. Kirkham came on site at Highlights last June to take over the project’s management. A more formal project plan was developed, and committees were formed that included senior management. Highlights continued to use its own internal IT staffers for interface development, network issues and quality assurance functions. ESYNC provided the project management and WMS implementation expertise.
Once the parameters were established, Kirkham developed an updated path for the project. “It involved looking at their host systems, and what information comes down manually vs. automatically,” he explains. “Then we went down the line to match their existing process flows against the flows of the new WMS.”
A testing phase followed. “We did the testing in several phases,” says Kirkham, to ensure inventory, ship dates and picking information all were being generated correctly. Test results were “above expectations,” he adds. Next came a user-acceptance test in the warehouse. “We shut down the system, downloaded a day’s orders and had the warehouse staff actually go and pick them.”
At press time, Highlights was in the final countdown. Kirkham and Eaton were hopeful the changeover would happen without a hitch. When the new WMS goes live, Eaton looks for three primary benefits:
1. A stable, reliable system that will grow with the company, including a chance to see cost savings.
“The new system will allow us to pick directly into the final shipping container vs. using a tub and then transferring the product to the shipping container,” says Eaton.
2. Higher accuracy rates. “We would like to see numbers over 99 percent,” Eaton says.
3. Continuous inventory verification through cycle counts vs. the more traditional annual inventory.
Kirkham adds, “Highlights will spend nearly a million dollars on the project when all is said and done. But with ever-increasing customer demands for higher service levels and the ever-present pressure to operate at lower costs, the new system should bring big rewards to Highlights.”