Apex Tool Group Addresses Labor Needs Using Lucas Work Execution Software

Apex Tool Group

About Apex Tool Group

Apex Tool Group (ATG) is one of the leading global manufacturers of professional hand and power tools. The company’s half million square foot central distribution center in North Carolina serves multiple channels, including direct-to-consumer fulfillment, B2B distribution to retailers, as well as shipments to other ATG DCs throughout the world.

Legacy Technology and Processes Before Lucas

Prior to installation of the Lucas Work Execution system, the warehouse management system (WMS) provided RF-based work execution for all DC processes. The WMS also integrated with conveyor and sortation systems, and a pick-to-light module for each picking.

Despite using RF and pick-to-light, “The picking processes were complex and inefficient,” says Chris Rufa, Senior Director of Global Distribution. “Everybody was working overtime.”

In addition to suboptimal picking, work release was also highly manual. The WMS would print the labels for all orders for the day and a planner would sort the labels by carrier and shipment. The pickers would ultimately decide the sequence in which orders were picked, which sometimes caused items to ship late, among other issues.

Apex Tools DC
Apex Tool Group

The Lucas Solution

  • 1) The current WMS sends orders to the Lucas Engage work execution server which manages the creation and release of work assignments across the facility.
  • 2) Lucas Dynamic Work Optimization creates optimized batch picking assignments for different cart configurations in the main piece picking area. DWO also defines optimal pick paths for each cart pick assignment in the area.
  • 3) Lucas Move voice-directed mobile applications are used for post-pick dock sortation and all picking processes in every area of the DC: pick-to-cart, pick-to-carton, case pick and non-conveyable. Jennifer, the voice of Lucas Move, directs users through their work.
  • 4) A Lucas post-pick QC/Audit application uses barcode scanning to replace a manual visual audit process.
  • 5) Lucas Engage Management Console, a web-based tool, gives supervisors real-time performance management, work status updates and exception notifications.

The Results

1) 63 percent reduction in picking errors leading to a sharp reduction in fines and other error costs.
2) Improved audit efficiency allows Apex to perform more audits in a shorter period of time, freeing up staff for other tasks.
3) The DC is operating with 10 percent fewer man hours overall (although Lucas is only used in picking, sortation and QC).
4) Improved employee morale: “You rarely implement a new system and have users tell you ‘It’s made my life so much easier!’ Making the processes better for associates makes them more productive. And that’s better for the business.”

Resources

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