About the client:
Kaukauna Utilities is a community owned and operated electric and water utility serving more than 13,500 customers in the Kaukauna Wisconsin Area. Public power systems like Kaukauna Utilities are non -profit and have one main purpose- to provide customers with the best services at the lowest possible costs. Kaukauna Utilities is a co-owner of a nonprofit power company called WPPI Energy. Kaukauna Utilities purchases low- cost electricity for the community and take advantage of the latest technologies to better serve customer needs.
Kaukauna had opportunities in their operations for new real-time workflow automation and improvements around barcoding product and managing inventory movement via scanning and automated lookup of items in the warehouse. They were keen on developing a real-time mobile application with fully functional systemic integration processes to and from their Caselle ERP accounting application for inventory items. They were also looking for better visibility and reporting for both linesman’s daily job activity and operations management oversight of linesman’s activities.
Most pressing for Kaukauna operations and technology teams were to fully automate a very old legacy system used in some of their core inventory warehouse management processes. Utility Linesmen “issue” or add inventory items from the warehouse to engineering department created work orders created in the Caselle ERP system. The process to pick the items and update inventory was not real-time and they had zero visibility to actual item descriptions and inventory counts for accurate selection to the correct jobs. The returns process for unused inventory issues to the field was also not real-time and manual in nature. Both moves for getting data back to their ERP was time consuming and required multiple steps by the linesman to key or upload data manually from one process to the next.
Annexus Solutions deployed experts in mobile application development to design, develop and launch an Android application running on a modern Zebra ET50 8.3 inch tablet for the linesman activities in the warehouse. Users are able to scan barcoded products or look up items via bread crumb description search criteria real time via the handhelds to their Caselle ERP application. This alone resulted in tremendous amounts of time savings and increased accuracy of picks for the work orders. The development team created direct web services calls between the Zebra Device and the Caselle ERP accounting application. Visibility and movement of transactions became all real time for the linesman and the accounting team which removed manual processes, increase accuracy and improved work order creation efficiencies. In addition, the Annexus Solutions team designed, developed and deployed a web-based application platform with views and reporting features for both linesman mobile device activity as well as for operations administration for oversight on all activity in the warehouse both past and present. These views helped the operations team with trouble shooting inventory discrepancies linesman were seeing on the handhelds versus what was on the warehouse floor reducing out of stocks due to inaccurate inventory counts in the accounting application.
Results and Key Benefits
- Real time movement of inventory, inventory on hand visible to linesman at the time of picking allowed them to raise concerns about inventory discrepancies in the warehouse to what was showing in the system.
- Eliminated manual creation of inventory catalogs for item look up via the old system saving 20 hours per month in administration time.
- Enhanced item attribute visibility for linesman when picking to ensure they are picking the correct items reducing errors and additional labor to correct mistakes downstream.
- Reduced inventory carrying costs by having better visibility and reporting tools to trouble shoot discrepancies in inventory counts.
- Real time work order summary reports for linesman to run eliminating them having to walk to operations to request reports pulled for them saving time for all involved.
- Fully integrated APIs to the Caselle ERP will allow for future platform enhancements for other key initiatives never thought possible.
- Automated real time inventory cycle counting and year-end inventory processes
- Automated receiving processes versus manual receipt and rekeying of data
- Location management and item movement within the warehouse
- Time sheet automation for Linesman’s elapsed hours worked per work order via Mobile application with integration to Cassell ERP and payroll systems.
- Estimating and work order creation automation and integration via the platform.
Plant and Facilities Supervisor
I cannot put into words how happy the whole team is with not being held back by all the manual processes you freed us from! This software platform does everything we need to do, plus gives our team access to things we did not think were even possible! The crews feel more in control of inventory accuracy since everything they do is immediately available for them now to review, confirm, trouble shoot and or print reports. I am looking forward to sharing with other departments how much this new platform has helped the warehouse inventory process run smoothly and how much we could improve and simplify the work order planning and estimating process within our distribution department.