Wave Picking Case Study

Wave Picking Case Study | Snuggle Bugz

Wave Picking Situation

Situation

Established in 2006 by husband and wife team Ben and Tanya, Snuggle Bugz started out as a single retail outlet and office. With a vision to provide a quality baby store where new parents could feel comfortable asking questions and discovering new products, Snuggle Bugz has been helping parents, friends, and family find the right products at the right time through early pregnancy to young childhood. It is this philosophy that has allowed Snuggle Bugz to grow over the years, and the company now operates more than 8 retail outlets across Canada, a wholesale division, plus an ever-expanding eCommerce store. Snuggle Bugz products include apparel, bath and potty items, feeding and teething products, gear for safety, transportation and play such as car seats, strollers and playards, nursery décor, furniture, health and safety products and more.

Ben Burmaster, Founder, Snuggle Bugz, has a background in technology and development and has used this to his advantage over the years, implementing powerful software to manage business processes.

Wave Picking Challenge

Challenge

As a growing, omnichannel business, Snuggle Bugz has faced various challenges over the years. One of the biggest challenges was around managing inventory in the warehouse and optimizing the picking, packing, and shipping process. Due to the nature of the business, Snuggle Bugz deals with a lot of different types of inventory – from small, fast-moving items to larger items requiring a forklift to access and move. On the eCommerce side of the business, most items are sold as part of one-off orders, which requires employees in the warehouse to quickly pick multiple single items for various orders. The challenge facing Snuggle Bugz was the ability to easily navigate its warehouse to quickly pick, pack and ship these web orders. The company was wasting valuable resources on picking multiple single line orders and strict shipping guidelines added to the complexity of managing inventory, as different shipping carriers require different skid types. For example, Canada Post requires plastic skids, whereas FedEx requires wooden skids. This was complicating the receiving and packing process and causing delays in the shipping of goods. Prior to working with Blue Link, Snuggle Bugz developed custom functionality to consolidate orders based on pick location, but this still required users to manually choose orders.

Lastly, Snuggle Bugz was looking for the ability to quickly report on important information to better understand areas for improvement and opportunities across the business. As the company continues to grow it is important to be able to quickly get relevant information in order to make decisions and further optimize processes.

Wave Picking Solution

Solution

The solution for Snuggle Bugz was to work with its existing ERP software provider, Blue Link ERP, to devise a plan to optimize the warehouse and picking, packing and shipping process. As a trusted business partner, Blue Link has worked with Snuggle Bugz for the past 7 years, not only managing the company’s back-end ERP software requirements but also working with them to optimize internal business processes across the different company departments. Because of the great relationship between Snuggle Bugz and Blue Link, it was obvious to work with Blue Link to develop a plan for moving forward. Working with Blue Link consultant, Mike Miner, Ben Burmaster and the Blue Link team created a plan for dividing the warehouse space into zones, creating consolidated pick slips for wave picking and automating the creation and distribution of specific reports. Although Blue Link provides advanced Warehouse Management Software functionality as an optional component, this was not required to address the concerns of Snuggle Bugz. Instead, using some built-in Blue Link ERP tools and with the help of Consultant, Mike, Snuggle Bugz was able to achieve its goals, without needing to purchase additional software or features.

Wave Picking divides the warehouse in zones but does not restrict the employees to pick from a specific zone. With wave picking, it common for companies to schedule orders to be picked at a specific time and day to coordinate and organize the picking process.

WAREHOUSE ZONES
The first step in addressing the concerns of Snuggle Bugz was to divide the warehouse into different zones. In this case, it was 5 zones, broken down as follows:
Zone 1. Small fast moving items
Zone 2. Slower moving items
Zone 3. Slowest moving items
Zone 4 & 5. Large items
Zones 1, 4 and 5 are located on the ground floor of the warehouse and Zones 2 and 3 on the second floor.

CONSOLIDATED PICK SLIPS
The next step was to create Consolidated Pick Slips (CPS) to be used as part of the picking process. After working closely with Ben, Mike created a CPS report that organizes product by zone and first looks for single line orders for a product where the total quantity sold is >= 15. This specific parameter was configured within Blue Link’s Automated Routines Manager (ARM) functionality. The system then automatically looks to see if there are orders that meet this criterion, and if so, creates a single product CPS. Then the system creates pick slips for the rest of the orders that only have items in the zone selected, regardless of quantity. All consolidated pick slips are ordered by bin and shelf location. If an order has product on it from more than 1 Zone, that order does not get included on the CPS – this ensures an order is never split across multiple pick slips. Snuggle Bugz specifically chose to use 15 for the number of lines, but this number can be continuously modified based on a company’s specific needs.

The information on the CPS also includes the courier for each order as different couriers go to different packing stations and require different packing methods. This means large items are picked directly to correct skid type.



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Wave Picking Case Study Results Section

Results

As a result of working with Blue Link to optimize warehouse processes, Snuggle Bugz has drastically decreased the picking time for orders and reduced the amount of travel time for employees in the warehouse. The information on the CPS also saves employees from having to reload skids for the carriers that have specific skid requirements. The reports developed allow Snuggle Bugz to easily make decisions around purchasing and sales and helps them organize items in the warehouse in the most efficient way possible.

REPORTING
As part of its plan to optimize warehouse processes, Blue Link worked with Snuggle Bugz to create a bunch of meaningful reports. The reports created are as follows:

Sales Quantity Trend
The first report called Sales Quantity Trend shows the trailing 12 month sales quantity by product code for all active inventory. This allows Snuggle Bugz to easily see trends in sales to make decisions around which product to stock and how to organize items in the warehouse.

Purchase Quantity Trend
The second report shows the trailing 12 month purchase quantity by product code for all active inventory. This information helps Snuggle Bugz make informed purchasing decisions and allows them to easily compare purchasing with sales.

Dead Stock
The Dead Stock reports lists items not sold in the last 2 years that are currently in stock. Dead stock items tend to drain resources and cost money, and so it is important to know what items make up the dead stock to best figure out what to do with them.

Inactive Items Not Flagged
The Inactive Items Not Flagged report looks at active items not sold in the last 2 years where there are none left in stock.

Annualized Profile Report
The Annualized Profile Reports helps Snuggle Bugz determine how much space to assign to a given product in Zone 1 of the warehouse.

Snuggle Bugz will continue to work with Blue Link into the future to further optimize warehouse processes based on additional information. Future process improvements include:
(1) Determining the most optimized number of pick items per CPS
(2) Ability to incorporate requested ship date into the prioritization of picking

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Blue Link Testimonial

"We have been able to seamlessly integrate the two platforms (Blue Link & Magento eCommerce) to tie-in our inventory, customers, orders and streamline a lot of stuff so there is no duplication of work - it's very smooth."

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Ben Burmaster
President/Founder, Snuggle Bugz