Pet Supplies Plus Senior Director of Logistics, Jerry Troupe, discussed how his company’s adoption of a modern mobile solution including Android mobility devices and Manhattan Associates’ WM Mobile application have delivered substantial and measurable efficiency and productivity improvements at the company’s distribution center.
This time last year I wrote about Manhattan Associates’ announcement of Pet Supplies Plus as the first Manhattan Active WM customer. Fast forward to May 2021 and Pet Supplies Plus is discussing the company’s progress thus far with the solution. Yesterday Jerry Troupe discussed the company’s progress with its modern mobile solution during day one of Manhattan’s 2021 user conference. Jerry provided an informative overview of the business benefits Pet Supplies Plus has obtained from its new mobile solution, the sources of those benefits, estimates of return on investment, and his learnings.
Employee Training and Ramp-Up
Training of new employees on the mobile equipment has been dramatically accelerated. Historically, new warehouse team members would be provided with cheat sheets and a long list of multiple-step commands to memorize to accomplish basic work functions on the old equipment. In contrast, the new equipment, running on Android, is similar to operating a smart phone. Therefore, new hires are familiar with the set-up and instinctively understand the interface without being trained. Jerry estimates that training for handheld equipment is about 75 percent less than it was previously and this acceleration to productivity has provided its own notable return on investment. Additionally, seasoned workers that were adept at using the legacy system were positive about the change. They knew the legacy equipment was at the end of its useful life and the new equipment would provide a better computing environment. Furthermore, it helped boost their productivity numbers and assisted them in meeting productivity incentive thresholds. The new mobile solution also helped accelerate overall new worker training times (times to productivity). Warehouse worker training involves numerous aspects of the job, including process training, such as pallet building, and use of other technology, such as material handling equipment. Even considering these extraneous processes, the mobility upgrade delivered an approximate 15 percent reduction in total training time.
Pet Supplies Plus also experienced a substantial improvement in overall facility throughput. Jerry credited this productivity lift primarily to the reduced training time, the improved system responsiveness and reliability, and process enhancements that were able to be made as a result of being on the new platform. Those improvements, in conjunction with some building reflow work, and some other changes, have taken facility productivity up about 30 percent. Jerry attributes approximately 12-15 percent of that lift to Manhattan Active WM and the new equipment.
Jerry noted that one lesson learned would be to focus greater attention on training the managers and supervisors to use the system to manage the resources and staff on the warehouse floor. But, in all, they exceeded expectations as they were able to on-board the new platform and basically change every piece of equipment inside the building while running live and fulfilling all orders to their stores.