Wolverton Inc. saves time and money with Infor ERP A+ suite
Topic: Case Studies
Wolverton Inc. got out of the doghouse with an integrated solution for its 4-acre distribution center, says Dave Harper, senior systems analyst. Photography by Brian Kelly
Headquarters: Lansing, Mich.
Business: Wholesale distributor of pet supplies
Challenge: Integrate one-off packaged and homegrown applications
Solution:Moved to the Infor ERP A+ suite to create a seamless, end-to-end information and operations flow with help from Maximum Computer Systems
Hardware: Power Systems server running IBM i
Software:Infor ERP A+ suite, UPS’s Roadnet
Whether it’s due to company acquisitions or years of creating one-off applications to handle specific tasks, many organizations have multiple systems running on multiple platforms to support their operations. And why not? When these systems play well together, there’s no reason to separate them.
Often, this idealistic playground setting turns into a battleground, forcing IT departments to create links between different programs to develop an integrated solution that serves all of its users in an unencumbered manner. Not only is this a strain on IT, it impedes end-to-end, controlled business operations.
This issue becomes particularly onerous when companies begin adding new technologies and services to the mix. For example, when Wolverton Inc., a pet-supply wholesaler, built a state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center, its disparate software solutions could no longer keep pace with its lofty vision of a truly integrated future.
The company sought a solution that would supplant its here-there-everywhere application model, and found the Infor ERP A+ suite. Now, Wolverton’s employees have a single access point into the company’s operations, creating a “corner-to-corner” integrated application environment worthy of its new 4-acre warehouse and distribution center, as Dave Harper, senior systems analyst with Wolverton, describes it.
No Moving Involved
Headquartered in Lansing, Mich., Wolverton was established in 1940 as a garden- and pet-supply retailer. After being purchased in 1965, it closed its retail front and began focusing on wholesale distribution of pet-related goods, of which there are more than 14,000 different categories, including pet food, electric fences, flea control and even pet clothing. “You name it, we probably have it,” Harper says.
Wolverton’s customers run the gamut from big-box stores and mom-and-pop shops to veterinarian clinics and kennels, all of which are located in six states: Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia and Pennsylvania. As one might imagine, this keeps the Wolverton warehouse and distribution center hopping, as it processes more than 850 orders—some 55,000 individual product units—each day and ships them via its fleet of 26 trucks, commercial carriers and UPS. The company continues to grow year after year.
No wonder, then, that it needed to upgrade its warehouse and distribution center—and not just into a typical pick-and-pack environment. The company’s new setting includes lifts and carousels and automated box delivery. It features Wi-Fi throughout and uses radio-frequency (RF) devices in the picking-and-packing process.
When an order comes in, whether over the telephone, via EDI or on the Web, it’s held within order entry until the order-fulfillment shift at the warehouse is ready for it. Orders are released in groups by route. As the order enters the warehouse system, it is split between bulk (bags of food and other large items) and pack (pet supplies and other items that can be boxed). Those items are reunited when the customer’s pallet is assembled. (To read more about Wolverton’s state-of-the-art packing process, see “How a Pack Order is Filled”.
“The biggest part of my job is using technology to create greater efficiency throughout Wolverton.”
—Dave Harper, senior systems analyst for Wolverton Inc.