Liquor distributor eases stocktake pains

Alcohol distribution company Independent Liquor is getting rid of a stocktaking hangover by combining radio frequency technology with a new ERP system.

Alcohol distribution company Independent Liquor is getting rid of a stocktaking hangover by combining radio frequency technology with a new ERP system.

Based in Auckland, the company operates a subsidiary, Independent Distillers, in Australia, the UK and Canada.

Last November it went live with a Navision Axapta system which provides integrated warehouse management with radio frequency capability and a materials requirements planning system.

The need for an automated yet simple-to-use system arose due to the existing manual system not keeping pace with growth.

Independent Liquor operations director Bob Lewis says it was taking three days each week just to do a physical stocktaking in the warehouse.

“We required a system that could automate large stock-takes and our entire warehouse system, but could also give us wider management control across our operation,” he says.

The company also needed a system that would integrate with its financials package, Exchequer.

Independent Liquor IT manager Lex Paterson says having a radio frequency-enabled warehouse management system is turning around the stocktaking problem.

“We’re using barcode scanners so staff can walk around the warehouse and scan rather than count stock. Doing it electronically like this, it has reduced the three days it used to take to just two to four hours.”

Paterson says the new system also improves stock control, stock measurement, stock turnaround and information.

“The previous system only had a quantity so we didn’t know where in the warehouse a product was located. This gives us much better visibility of stock.”

Axapta can also automatically track product distribution from the warehouse to its destination.

Work order processing is implemented, and the planning and forecasting modules are going in now.

Auckland-based Solution Partners started the implementation in May. The initial plan was to spend three months installing the warehouse management module and another six weeks putting in production.

Despite the warehousing implementation taking two months longer than scheduled, Independent Liquor could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Independent Liquor warehouse manager Stephen Halliday says it was a big leap for the company to go from a basic manual system to a completely automated one.

“The 30 staff in the warehouse didn’t have a lot of computer skills but they’re handling it well. They use RF extensively and are able to make inquiries. We’ve come a long way in a short time and we can see the potential.”

Following the Auckland head office installation, the aim is to put Axapta in at Independent Distillers sites around the world, first in Melbourne followed by Sydney, Perth, London and Vancouver.

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