Integrated system gives productivity boost for retailer

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Ireland’s largest independent electrical wholesaler, Meteor Electrical, has reported significant productivity improvements following its recent implementation of Manhattan ILS: Integrated Logistics Solutions, built on Microsoft.NET. Since implementing the solution suite’s warehouse management component, the company has cut the time taken to receive goods by 50 per cent in spite of increasing the number of pallet spaces from 4,000 to 9,000.

Implementation of the new system took just over three months from start to finish, and went live without any downtime.

Within three or four days the Manhattan system already matched the speed of its predecessor and productivity increased from that point onwards.

Meteor Electrical’s fleet of 35 vehicles delivers orders worth in excess of £100,000 every day throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland from its 160,000 sq ft distribution centre in Cookstown, County Tyrone. Order size can vary enormously, and many customers require a next-day delivery, so processing speed is crucial.

“As soon as a delivery arrives, the new system automatically tells us where it needs to go.

Previously, someone had to go and check whether the required space was available before putting anything away on a shelf,” says John Conway, managing director of Meteor Electrical.

“After implementing the Manhattan solution, bottlenecks have all but disappeared and picking speed has improved. If there’s a problem with an order we can pinpoint it immediately, rather than going through a printout of complex machine code.”

Meteor Electrical distributes not only a vast range of electrical and lighting products, but also wiring, cables and, most recently, plumbing and heating products.

To support the rapid growth the business is experiencing, Meteor is making further plans for the distribution centre. A mini-load system is first on the agenda, to be followed by voice-controlled picking, and the number of pallet spaces is expected to grow to 22,000.

“One of the most important things for us is the flexibility we have now,” says Conway.

“We’re introducing new stock all the time, so we need to be able to experiment with new ways of working. With this system, we can change the configuration whenever we like – if we want to do something new, we’ll just go ahead and try it and see if it works.”

Manhattan Associates has launched a series of enhancements to Manhattan ILS including a new graphical outbound dock management screen; improved visibility to dock locations; and trailer loading.

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