Midlands supply chain software specialist OrderWise has taken an engineering firm from pen, paper and separate computer systems to full automation.
Based just outside Walsall, L&S Engineers is one of the country’s leading suppliers of spare parts and consumables to the plant hire and construction sector. L&S employs more than 40 staff and sources products from around 400 suppliers, allowing customers to consolidate their operations. Around 3,000 orders are received per week through telephone, fax, email, via the company’s website and over its trade counters.
The company has been using OrderWise since early 2014. Prior to using the software, L&S used multiple systems including a bespoke Windows order management interface and three different accounts packages.
“L&S approached us as there was no digitised stock control in place at the company, meaning processes were completed manually and orders relied on paper-based exercises for picking, packing and shipping,” said David Hallam, Director at OrderWise. “Responsibility for purchasing stock was assigned to members of staff who would visit bins with clipboards to see which items were running low before ordering more.”
L&S went live with its initial OrderWise system in 2014. Since then, the business has grown substantially and has moved into a brand new purpose-built warehouse. During this time, L&S has worked closely with OrderWise, adding new functionality as required, including the introduction of mobile devices.
Ian Shay, General Manager at L&S Engineering, said: “Before OrderWise came on board, it was becoming more of a challenge to order stock, to know where it was coming from and to keep track. If a customer wanted to know whether we had an item, we were literally leaving our desks to look in a stock bin.
“We would also have queues of people waiting at PC terminals during peak periods, ready to hand-type delivery addresses into our systems. We’re a high-volume, low-transaction value business, so we knew the more we automated these processes, the better.”
Ian explained the benefits of using the OrderWise software: “We now run a fully stock-controlled company. We know how much stock we’ve got, what’s coming in and have a clear picture of which orders are outstanding. We run purchasing reports to determine what we need to order and can now be proactive in chasing outstanding items.”
Stock availability has improved substantially, meaning more customer orders are delivered on time and in full. They also invested in mobile devices with pick rules and labelled nearly 20,000 new bins with barcodes. As a result, pick accuracy has improved with a 50% reduction in incorrect picks and return rates falling below 1%.
Through the OrderWise e-commerce and courier integration, Ian explains that full automation has been achieved: “Our website is now fully integrated with OrderWise. A customer orders online and the items are picked 10 minutes later. It’s simply imported as a standard OrderWise order and the dispatch tracking information is updated on the website. The potential for growth with OrderWise is limitless.”