Fosters rolls out just-in-time supply chain

Global beverage company Foster’s Group has rolled out a new warehouse management system to 14 sites across Australia and the US.

The decision came as the initial implementation of RedPrairie’s system at Foster’s three sites in Victoria in 2000 resulted in lifting operational efficiency and flexibility, as well as supply chain visibility.

Adding Southcorp Wines to its already extensive brand portfolio in 2005, Foster’s started a supply chain transformation project to move from beer-only to multi-beverage and multi-brand distribution facilities under the partnership with the optimisation company.

The beverage company’s product now encompasses beer, wine, spirits, cider and non-alcoholic beverages.

Foster’s chief supply officer Michael Brooks said the company’s successful expansion of its portfolio and global market share was made possible by investing in a scalable production and distribution network.

“In 2003, we found that our current systems and processes did not have the flexibility or capacity to scale to the level they needed to meet the increasing demand for our diverse product lines,” Mr Brooks said.

“We needed to reconfigure and enhance our supply chain network by increasing service levels to our widespread customers.”

RedPrairie implemented the system in the brewer’s 20,000-sqm facility at Yatala, Queensland, which produces more than 25 per cent of the total beer production in Australia with over 20,000 pallet locations and multiple beer kegs.

As the automation process led to a record uptime at the site, Foster’s progressively rolled out the system to its new sties in Australia and California, on time and on budget.

The warehouse management system incorporates technologies such as voice picking and laser-guided forklifts, new ‘human-less’ technology that moves pallets safely through the distribution centre.

Foster’s process manager logistics Garry Smith said stability was one of the key benefits that the system offered.

“Foster’s has a finely-tuned, just-in-time supply chain, so any outages cause hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute in lost man-time, fuel costs, delayed customer orders and overtime costs.

“RedPrairie’s system is bullet-proof and runs on stable platforms designed for tough environments and immediate response times,” Mr Smith said.

RedPrairie Asia Pacific managing director Mark Skipper said multinational businesses like Foster’s would require a strong partnership to ensure smooth implementation.

“The group worked as one and delivered this very large-scale on time and on budget.

“This is quite a fear for a logistics project of this size and global nature,” he said.

Multimodal data collection devices certified

LXE’s MX7 handheld computer & HX2 wearable computer have been certified compatible with Vocollect’s voice recognition software

LXE Inc., provider of rugged mobile computing and data-collection solutions for improving the performance of supply chain execution application, has announced that Vocollect has certified its VoiceClient VVH 1.0 for use on LXE’s MX7 handheld computer and LXE’s HX2 wearable device. These certifications apply to both dedicated (voice-only) and multimodal (voice/scanning) data-collection devices for speech-based applications.

LXE believes voice technologies and hands-free computing will continue to grow as a strong component of inventory tracking and control throughout the supply chain. The company believes voice systems improve productivity, accuracy, safety and worker job satisfaction.

For more information on the MX7 handheld computer and the HX2 wearable device, go to

Sony upgrades WMS

Sony Canada has upgraded to a new version of RedPrairie’s WMS in its Whitby, Ontario and Coquitlam, British Columbia distribution centres. Sony Canada has been a RedPrairie customer for nine years and upgraded to a new version of the company’s WMS to take advantage of new features and functionality including voice picking with Vocollect Voice from Vocollect, Inc.

Both Sony of Canada distribution sites went live with the new version in April 2008. These warehouses service all wholesale and retail sales throughout Canada. The Wholesale group is responsible for marketing and sales of Sony products to consumers through a dealer network, and to professionals through multiple direct sales channels. The Retail group operates approximately 80 Sony Style retail locations and is responsible for direct merchandising and sales of Sony and third party products to consumers.

“The WMS plays a critical role in Sony Canada’s distribution operations,” said Rick Courtin, business process manager, Supply Chain Group at Sony of Canada Ltd.  “This new version allows us to enhance our capabilities, for example enabling voice picking technology for cluster picking.”

With headquarters in Toronto, sales offices in Vancouver and Montreal and distribution centres in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and Whitby, Ontario, Sony’s approximately 1,200 employees support a network of more than 500 authorised dealers and 80 ‘Sony Style’ retail locations across Canada.

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