Walk into any of the most high-tech manufacturing facilities, distribution centers or warehouses, and you’re likely to find
a bin arrangement that feels out of place and dated. Bins, arranged in rows that are stacked on top of each other, hold all the vital parts and supplies that keep business moving – fasteners, tools, tape, wiring, personal protectiveequipment and anything else that can be imagined. But even as the supply chains for other parts of these operations have become more modern and advanced, bins are often stuck in the past. Many bin arrangements offer no visibility into the flow of materials at any given moment, which leads to a cascading series of impacts that hurts the bottom line.

Employees who know that the bin system doesn’t work well end up taking more than what they need so they can do
their jobs without interruption. This results in chronic stock-outs for other employees, interfering with the overall productivity of the facility.

Distributors make two visits to complete a single task – one visit to count what’s in each bin, and another, several days
later, to act on that information and restock.

One Company’s Approach

Assembly Fasteners, Inc. (AFI), a global distributor of products and services to very large industrial customers, was working through many of these problems with old bin systems. AFI specializes in vendor-managed inventory (VMI) programs in which it manages its customers’ project inventory levels. For AFI and its customers, the old method of restocking bins was time-consuming.

“We could tell from the get-go that this would be a game-changer for us.” Hugh Watson, AFI president

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