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Toupargel was founded in 1947 and acquired by its current General Manager, Roland Tchenico in 1982.
In the succeeding 24 years, specializing in home delivery of mainly frozen food, turnover grew from 8 million to 380 million euros and with the acquisition of the company Frigedoc (brand Agrigel) in 2003 became market leader in France with a 36% market share. Today Toupargel employ some 3700 employees delivering over 7.85 million orders of both frozen and fresh products and groceries to around 1.5 million customers.
The acquisition of Agrigel necessitated fundamental changes to standardize the product range, combine the infrastructures and match both the logistic organization and IT systems.
The Agrigel operation, where all orders were prepared manually, was based on a fleet of trucks operating out of a central warehouse in Argentan feeding some 9 warehouses all over France whereas Toupargels system was primarily telesales with semi-automatic picking of individual orders operating out of 2 sites (Civrieux and Poitiers) covering 75% of the country. The change from order picking for trucks to individual picking of all orders would have meant an increase in the number of picks from 500 orders at 2000 euros to 25000 orders of 40 euros. As such it was necessary to harmonize the distribution system to combine all types of order picking to cover the whole territory from 4 sites (Argentan, Civrieux, Montauban and Poitiers). The same situation applied to the IT systems. Agrigel was using SAP for accounting and supply and Adonix for order processing whereas Toupargel had developed its own system Lydis. It was decided to implement a common system for the whole group consisting of SAP for purchasing and supply and Savoye for their LM7 warehouse management software interfacing with their material handling systems picking some 4 million orders per year.
Savoye are a leading European supplier of automated warehouse systems offering a comprehensive range including automated storage, picking, packing and software solutions developed by a-SIS, their own in-house software division, who are able to provide a full featured, powerful and modular Warehouse Management System (WMS) in addition to a variety of order picking and optimization applications.
Major changes were necessary to bring the two companies, Toupargel and Agrigel, together and speed was of the essence. So the two projects, development of the buildings/infrastructure and the necessary software to manage the business, were run in tandem at the same time. Two new sites were created: the first an 8000 square metre facility at Argentan near Agrigels central warehouse capable of picking around 4 million orders per year and another at Montauban totaling 7000square metres with a cold room of 28000 m3 and an annual capacity of some 2 million orders.
Cold initialization of the new platform started in January and operations commenced in February using the existing Agrigel systems. The switchover to Savoyes LM7 software was realized in the first weekend in May without any problems raising the performance progressively to correspond with the closure of the Agrigel warehouses. Cold initialization of the Montauban site was commenced in October with the first orders being handled the following month.
The next step was to switch the two Toupargel sites over to the new LM7 software and at the end of 2005 Civrieuxs cold room was extended from7000m3 to 19000m3. The work stations were replaced in November and LM7 was installed and a global test carried out over Christmas and the New Year resulting in the first order picks starting in January as planned. At the same time a similar operation was carried out in Poitiers to start picking in February. As Christian Camus, the Logistics Manager explained stock management procedures were customized, especially for cascade replenishment which we handle on three levels: pallet reserve, carton picking and flow rack and only the LM7 system could manage these specific features as opposed to other software which could only handle two levels for replenishment reserve and picking. By mid May the four sites were running up to speed and all the Agrigel warehouses were closed down.
The adoption of a common order picking process was another key step for the two brands. At the beginning an order from a customer in Brest was handled in Argentan for Agrigel products and in Poitiers for Toupargel. However, once the four sites were operational orders could be consolidated and progressively transferred to the warehouse supplying the area concerned. All orders for the same geographic area are now handled by the same platform and transported by the same truck to the agencies. This new structure has improved both the quality of order picking and raised the level of productivity. The next step is to re-organize deliveries to further improve service to customers and once the new IT order management system is fully operational the commercial data at Agrigel and Toupargel will be consolidated with the objective of combining order intake, preparation and delivery of both brands for customers in the same area.
A number of other projects are now running to further improve efficiency including a voice picking test, with Savoyes software house a-SIS and Vocollect, carried out on the Argentan site in July.
With proven expertise in order picking/packing, automated storage/handling, WMS, design, manufacturing and integration, underpinned by lifetime after sales support, Savoye provide customer focused solutions and have built an impressive client base, including numerous blue chip companies, from a wide range of market sectors such as textiles, office products, books, media and e-business.