Sandpiper makes stock visible

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Abingdon Flooring started trading on 31st October 2003 as a result of the management buyout of Carpets International following its fall into receivership. Four of the Carpets International Directors put together a rescue package and purchased the manufacturing plant at Crumlin near Newbridge, South Wales. The workforce was secured and expansion plans included an increase in workforce headcount and an extension to the existing warehouse.

Renamed Abingdon Flooring Ltd, the site has been in operation for over 20 years and formerly employed a quarter of the workforce of Carpets International. The company manufactures both the yarn for the carpets as well as the carpets themselves and the well known brand names of Kosset, Abingdon, StainFree and Wilton Royal are in the impressive portfolio.

As part of the acquisition the companys IBM AS/400 based computer system including the warehouse management functionality and handheld scanners was adopted at the Crumlin site. The handheld computers and wireless infrastructure used Narrow Band radio technology, and suffered from poor reliability and battery life.

Alliance Flooring Distribution in Kidderminster was subsequently acquired in April 2005 taking the combined stock capacity of both companies to nearly a million square meters of carpet.

As the Alliance Flooring warehouse operation was purely paper based, it was considered that it would make sense to implement new barcode scanning and wireless mobile computers at this site first. An approach was made to Sandpiper Corporation to recommend a real time rugged mobile computing solution to meet the needs of both the Alliance and Abingdon warehouses.

Based on the operational and systems criteria defined; reliability, systems compatibility, ergonomics, 8 hour battery life, ruggedness and scanning performance, the Datalogic Viper was selected and commissioned in January 2006. Sandpipers FocusID solution meant that no capital approval was required, and the costs over the three years would be known and fixed.

In July 2006, driven by the unreliability and escalating repair costs of the legacy system, Abingdon Flooring decided to engage Sandpiper to deploy the new system at the Crumlin site which coincided with the start of the project to physically extend the warehouse.

Sandpiper Corporation delivered both systems under its unique FocusID All Inclusive Managed Service. The handheld computers, wireless infrastructure, professional implementation services, support and maintenance are all included in a fixed monthly cost per device. FocusID enables the client to change the number of devices in use and therefore the cost to the operation on a month by month basis in line with business demands.

This was particularly beneficial to Abingdon Flooring as it was unsure how many devices were actually in use due to a proportion of the population being out of commission while being repaired, and also as Sandpiper could provide a fixed price before the warehouse extension was built.

FocusID also provides companies with an effective and viable option to outsource the ownership, deployment, management and support of AutoID systems to Sandpiper thereby freeing up valuable time for IT and operational resources to concentrate on core business objectives.

Financially, it will provide management with a mechanism for more accurate forward planning and expenditure forecast budgeting as a result of fixed, known costs for the duration of the contract. By factoring in any expected demand variance, accurate costs month by month can be planned and catered for, in advance.

The 24 hour, 6 day warehouse operation is similar at both sites: Finished carpet is received from the Backing Plant; the barcode label is scanned and the roll putaway into a user selected location where the location barcode is also read.

Customer orders are received at the warehouse defining the specific roll to be taken from stock to one of the cutting tables. The customers cut piece is scanned as it is loaded onto an automated sortation system that delivers the carpet to the relevant pre-load area. The remaining material is placed back in to stock. As a final check the rolls are scanned as they are loaded onto the trailers to ensure correct distribution.

Complete rolls of carpet are picked in the same way and delivered directly to the appropriate dock door and ultimately scanned onto the trailers.

During the scanning onto the trailers a part of the carpet roll label is detached and returned to the administration operation where the customer invoice is generated.

Since the implementation of the Datalogic Vipers, stock traceability and process audit has improved significantly; Paul Layton, Abingdons Logistics Manager comments the number of misplaced items in the warehouse is currently only 50 compared with over 300 last year.

Paul continues Sandpipers FocusID solution has provided the entire new system including wireless infrastructure and ongoing support and maintenance for less than the old system was costing just to maintain. The flexibility and fixed costs offered in the ability to change the number of devices in use at short notice has proved invaluable to the Abingdon and Alliance businesses. We have also been very pleased with the quality of support and repair turnaround times provided by Sandpiper.

 

About Sandpiper

Sandpiper Corporation Limited is a leading Systems Integrator of Wireless, Auto ID and Mobile Computing technologies. Its focus is Customer Service with a goal to ensure that its customers exploit these technologies to the full to deliver tangible business benefits.

By providing solutions that enable enterprise-wide mobility encompassing wireless local and wide-area mobile computing, barcode scanning, label generation, media management, RFID and data collection technologies; Sandpiper helps companies and organisations involved in managing Transportation, Logistics and Supply Chain Management operations improve the efficiency of their operations.

A consultative approach ensures that clients needs are fully understood and the most appropriate technologies and hardware are employed. Sandpiper offers a complete quality driven service including System Design, Software Development, Hardware Supply, Installation, Training, 24 x 7 Support and its unique FocusID commercial offering.

 

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