Logistics Firm Optimizes Fulfillment Workflow With VeraCore
Ocean Blue Logistics, Inc., is a logistics and fulfillment services provider located in Orlando, Florida that offers a wide range of services including: warehousing, order fulfillment, returns processing, kitting, heat shrinking, product assembly, transportation management, bulk storage and distribution. The firm provides both Business to Business and Business to Consumer product and literature fulfillment services to some of the nation’s most well respected brands.
In the company’s early days, the bulk of the fulfillment services that the company managed involved the warehousing and distribution of products that were manufactured by the firm’s former parent company on behalf of their clients. Orders were received electronically from the clients’ EDI processers and shipped to retail outlets that sold the client’s products. Over time, Ocean Blue began to expand their service offering to include direct to consumer fulfillment, literature and POP fulfillment, kitting and custom assembly services.
Challenges & Opportunities
Tom Muller, Ocean Blue’s president saw great opportunity for the company to aggressively expand the pick & pack, and kitting components of the business. He also recognized that a significant expansion of these segments of the business would likely necessitate investing in a software system designed specifically for this type of work.
“The software we had been using in the warehouse was a component of the system that we use to manage our manufacturing operation. It had served us well for a time, but it was really was not designed for a complex multi-client fulfillment shop like the one we had evolved into” recalled Muller. A substantial percentage of the Ocean Blue’s business still involved direct to retail distribution with orders fed from EDI processors. “We wanted to explore options that would better handle the pick & pack and kitting, but any solution would also need to also handle the big EDI accounts that we had built the business on, and continued to service” continued Muller.
Muller and his team set-out to find a solution that would better enable them to grow the business. One of their clients had heard of VeraCore, and had suggested they take a look. After viewing a number of demonstrations of VeraCore’s Order Management System and Warehouse Management System it was clear that VeraCore was a great fit for Ocean Blue. It would meet the needs of their current clients, would provide a host of new capabilities that would enable them to attract new business, and would enable them to optimize efficiency in the warehouse.
Of particular significance for Ocean Blue was the fact that it was so easy for VeraCore to accept orders from outside systems. After a couple of calls between their biggest client’s EDI processor and the VeraCore tech team, it was determined that the file format output by the EDI processor could be easily mapped into VeraCore without the need for any custom programming. “The flexibility that VeraCore affords us is really appealing”, explained Muller, “If a new client already has an ordering site, our client services team simply plugs their format in. If they don’t have an ordering site, the whole storefront can be built right in VeraCore.”
The ability for VeraCore to interface with Ocean Blue’s clients was just the beginning. VeraCore would also provide them with tools to streamline operations and leverage new technologies in the warehouse.
Russell Brown, Ocean Blue’s Director of Operations, explained. “We really like the fact that we can easily define business rules to control our fulfillment work-flow. For one our clients, we are fulfilling both retail orders and consumer orders, which come in from several different channels. Turnaround times and processing requirements vary based on order type and channel. Without VeraCore, the volumes that we’re handling would make a complex account like this a nightmare. With VeraCore, all of the decision making can be automated; we simply define the rules and VeraCore automatically sorts the orders into the appropriate processing queues and handles them accordingly.
Kitting is a significant revenue generator for Ocean Blue, and the kit work they perform is often complex. “Kitting has a lot of moving parts going on it in” Brown explained. “VeraCore does a great job with the flow of things. We landed a client whose kitting program had requirements that were substantially different from the other accounts we were managing. All I had to do was log into the VeraCore Warehouse Management System and create a new ‘Production Wave’ that would automatically segregate those kitting transactions so they could be processed separately from the other kit work we’re doing.”
VeraCore’s support for the use of barcode technology was also paramount to Ocean Blue’s decision to implement VeraCore. Barcodes can be used to confirm or commit warehouse transactions in real-time, from a terminal or from wireless devices. “We started out with a few of the hand-held wireless devices,” explains Brown, “which enabled our material handlers to confirm transactions without coming back to a computer.
More recently, we’ve also deployed picking carts with Chromebook laptops that are paired with Blue-tooth scanners. The laptops can communicate with VeraCore over our wireless network. This approach enables the user to utilize the barcode technology and also have full access to all the functions of VeraCore on a large screen. They are like rolling work stations.”
Since initially implementing the VeraCore, Ocean Blue has converted all of their existing accounts to VeraCore and has also launched several new clients on the system as well. “We really could not be happier with our decision” exclaims Tom Muller, “We really feel like we have a partner in VeraCore”.
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We really feel like we have a partner in VeraCore.