Dutch logistics and supply chain specialist Axell Logistics has worked with Realtime Despatch for more than five years. It uses the OrderFlow warehouse management system (WMS) to support multiple clients from its warehouse operations across Europe.
Axell recently faced a unique challenge; moving an existing customer over to the WMS during the international Coronavirus lockdown. This was necessary because the customer – an office furniture supplier – was seeing a dramatic increase in sales as people set up home offices in response to the Coronavirus lockdown.
“We needed to move to OrderFlow to handle the dramatic growth in order volumes, and we needed to integrate with FedEx. We wanted to optimise our processes for the customer, and OrderFlow was the best choice,” says Peter Bergsma, Axell Logistics’ IT and Engineering Manager.
Often a project of this kind would involve a Realtime Despatch consultant meeting with the client on-site, but in these unusual times this was not an option. Instead our experts worked remotely and were able to complete the project in just one week, all without Axell bringing anyone from Realtime Despatch into their warehouse.
“We’ve got a strong working relationship and communication is key with a project like this,” says Realtime Despatch’s Senior Software Developer, Dave Clouter.
Fast and hassle free
There was however, an additional challenge involved in making the move. The customer wasn’t directly integrated with any of the Axell systems and Peter didn’t want to change this.
“This is something I want to look into at a later date, but we needed to make progress as fast as possible so I didn’t want to change how they integrated us,” says Peter. “They currently send orders to us in a CSV file, so Realtime Despatch made it possible for these to be dropped into an FTP folder which OrderFlow can then import.”
New batching strategy
Not only did Realtime Despatch bring the customer onto the WMS quickly and smoothly, it also created a new batching strategy to optimise picking. Instead of a traditional strategy that prioritises picking around urgency or courier, the optimal picking strategy was to pick by product.
“This customer doesn’t have a particularly large product catalogue, but when orders arrive many of them are for the same SKUs,” says Peter. “We’re now able to batch them by SKU, which is significantly faster than doing multiple orders in one batch. Now we go to one location and pick all the items we need. It really speeds up the process.”
Introducing FedEx courier support
This project also instigated the development of FedEx courier integration, which means that FedEx courier support is now available to all Realtime Despatch customers, with 11 services activated by default.
Using the native FedEx API, OrderFlow WMS users can now request international shipping labels along with the relevant customs documents, such as a commercial invoice.
Prior to moving the customer over to OrderFlow, shipping labels had to be completed manually. “This was terrible, as they would take us multiple days to create. Now we can generate labels in minutes,” Peter enthuses.
The updated system went live in early May, with over 750 shipments dispatched in the first three weeks.
Peter has been very pleased with how smoothly this project went, particularly due to the unprecedented circumstances both teams found themselves in.
“Picking and packing goes so much faster, and we’ve saved so much time regarding label generation. There has been some big operational benefits from this project,” he concludes.