- Warehouse Mgt. (WMS)
- Warehouse Control (WCS)
- Order Management (OMS)
- Packaging Integration (PI)
America's modern military relies on cutting-edge technology and top-notch training for its personnel - and a key group of military trainers has come to depend on top civilian technology from GRSI and Pitney Bowes to keep up with demand for its services.
The Marine Corps Institute (MCI), the center for occupational training and continuing education programs within the U.S. Marine Corps, recently completed the installation of a GRSI and Pitney Bowes system that allows 24-hour turnaround on orders that used to take days or even weeks to fulfill.
"The new MCI shipping system ensures that order fulfillment no longer keeps Marines in the field waiting longer than necessary," said Capt. Stephens. "Every order that we receive, without exception, goes out the next day."
The many duties of the Marine Corps Institute include distributing books and other printed materials all over the world, for use by Marines pursuing educational requirements and opportunities through correspondence courses and distance-learning programs. On any given day, MCI receives roughly 2,000 orders for course materials, ranging from requests for the large stacks of books used in officers' career education programs to relatively slim "red books" detailing proper usage and care instructions for weapons and other pieces of equipment.
To process all those orders, the Marine Corps Institute maintains the Marine Corps' second-largest postal operation, staffed by 28 Marines and two civilians. “Even so,” said Capt. Stephens, “until the implementation of the Pitney Bowes system earlier this year, the order volume and a system that required outbound shipments to be hand-sorted according to ZIP code sometimes overwhelmed the dedicated personnel.”
To illustrate the problem, Capt. Stephens recalled his own experience while stationed in the Pacific, prior to landing his MCI assignment. After ordering a set of officers' training books, he waited more than three months for delivery. "When they finally arrived, I'd been reassigned and I wasn't even in Okinawa anymore."
The new system combines GRSI FastTrak automated selection, sorting and conveyor system with Pitney Bowes's Ascent™ shipping management software, a GRSI alliance partner since 1996. Orders received through postal mail or the MCI Web site are fed into Ascent, which then directs the system to retrieve materials from one or both warehouse sections of the MCI post office to fulfill the order. Ascent automatically generates shipping labels for each order. Bar-code readers assist in sorting all shipments by ZIP code and in verifying that order contents are correct and complete.
One of the challenges Pitney Bowes and GRSI had to overcome to set up the new MCI shipping system was fitting the sophisticated conveyor/scanner hardware into the MCI logistics center. The historic Navy Yard building was categorically not designed to house a state-of-the-art shipping management system. Space considerations had necessitated MCI to store its inventory in two separate sections of the building - one for textbooks and other materials that must be shipped as small parcels, and another for "red books" and other materials that can be shipped in pouches or smaller packages.
Pitney Bowes and GRSI's designers nevertheless devised a serpentine, multi-level conveyor track system and sorting carousel that links the separate warehouse areas within the relatively small space. The system fully supports the common need to combine materials from both warehouses in a single shipment.
The new system has provided welcome relief for the staff of the MCI logistics center, eliminating backlogs and freeing staff members to do more of the other official duties that fall to MCI personnel - serving as ceremonial honor guard and parade staff at official White House events.
"But the biggest benefit of the new system," said Capt. Stephens, "is the way it benefits Marines on assignment around the globe, including those in combat duty. There's no question about it," he said, "the system is definitely making things better for Marines in combat right now."
Distributing 1000s of CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records is part of daily operations for an entertainment company. To keep up with growing sales, it was vital for this company to have an updated, streamlined packaging system. GRSI chose an all inclusive cohesive packaging process that effectively increases order throughput for any client shipping large quantities of small size orders. The system automatically wraps each order and its documentation in rigid cardboard material. Simultaneously, a serialized LPN bar code is printed on the outside of each package. This allows FastTrak to track the order as it travels throughout the system. Orders are weighed, labeled, scanned for verification, manifested, and sorted to a shipping carrier bin. One operator is able to complete over 1,000 orders per hour.
As part of the upgrade, GRSI installed a 240-destination item sorter that is fully integrated with the entire warehouse. Each item is automatically scanned and dispensed onto the sortation conveyor. Items are appropriately sorted using FastTrak.
As a result of this updated system, the company has an extremely fast flow-rate and reduced labor costs. Orders are tracked throughout the entire process to ensure order accuracy. Click here to view a system video and other CD and DVD companies GRSI created solutions for.
A mail order retailer desired to improve the speed, accuracy, and security of its packaging system. GRSI met these needs with three integrated packaging systems: one system for processing small parcels, one for processing larger parcels, and one for processing high-end items. For all three systems, FastTrak automates and controls packaging operations; communicates pertinent order information to the host system, shipping system, and manifesting software; and allows users to access real-time operations and status data.
Paperwork, a shipping label, and the item are placed into a light duty plastic tray at the induction station for high-end items. The tray provides attractive presentation to enhance customer experience, a requirement for this client. The filled tray is conveyed and automatically placed into an erected, windowed carton. The carton is sealed and conveyed to an in-motion scale and scanner. Lastly, it is manifested and automatically sorted to the appropriate shipping carrier bin.
The operators use the FastTrak module and its dashboard displays to view alert notifications, shipping and customer information, throughput rates, and more. The entire system is capable of completing over 3,000 orders per hour, dramatically improving the previous throughput rate. Click here to view the system video and other gift and jewelry companies GRSI has worked with.
A healthcare company wanted to upgrade its existing distribution center by adding a sorter for automated order processing. GRSI FastTrak was chosen as the backbone of the sortation system. It integrates to the system’s host and controls all material handling equipment/subsystems. Click here to view additional drug, nutrition, and cosmetic companies GRSI has worked with.
A prestigious retail company needed improvement on its packaging for shipping its e-commerce catalog. The packaging had to protect and accomodate shoes, garments, accessories, jewelry, and cosmetics. In addition, the packaging had to incorporate a returnable carton for each order. GRSI's solution integrates a pad dispenser, carton erecting machine, shrink wrapper, literature inserter, print and apply labeling, manifesting, sorting, and shipping. Click here to view a video of the solution. Additional apparel and accessory companies GRSI worked with are listed here.