The challenge for TFI was to respond to strong organic growth, while maintaining farm-to-plate food quality and safety, and supporting and accounting for multiple customers.
The team’s first instinct was to explore introduction of a new ERP. Ultimately, TFI decided that implementation of Microlistics Chilled WMS was the best route forward. For TFI, food quality and safety at every step of the supply chain is the highest priority.
The operation handles 100 million pounds of frozen and chilled meat products across 6 different temperature zones every year. Tracking and maintaining the original shelf life details is critical.
TFI employ a third-party logistics service model to deliver storage and distribution of first-party product, and to support almost 30 external customers with cold chain services.
Inventory, accounting, shipments, and other activity are all accounted for separately, so the ability to allocate, record and account for tasks undertaken for customers was important for efficiency and profitability.
In addition, multiple other technologies were already in place, including a sales demand forecasting tool, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, transport management system (TMS) and a website.
Microlistics WMS as central hub for all operational activities.
Microlistics Chilled WMS is the main operational hub through plug-and-play integrations to TFI’s sales forecasting tool, ERP, TMS, and other systems. This allows for inventory, status, tracking and other information to be by the WMS for appropriate action within other systems.
Every case is scanned, given its own unique identifier in the system and locked to a pallet ID.
The shelf life information of each product is attached to the pallet where it is stored, so all customer driven orders are filled in a timely and accurate manner. This allows TFI to provide unparalleled stock availability and ensures food freshness and shelf life are managed accordingly.
TFI utilize the Task Bank which intelligently drives the most urgent tasks to the warehouse associates at the optimum time. In addition, the task bank provides a comprehensive audit rail of all activity undertaken.
This data is then merged into the 3PL Billing Module which provides Activity Based Costing for each customer. Regardless of who moves the product and who it is moved for, TFI know who, what, when, and most importantly, how long it took.
The billing module is then able to turn all the activity-based costing into accurate billing for the appropriate customer.
The seamless integration of Microlistics WMS with built in billing module not only ensures each customer is invoiced correctly but eliminated human error and the labor cost of manually keyed invoicing out of the daily administrative task.
Furthermore, since all tasks are managed and tracked in the system, TFI management can forecast/estimate based upon history what the labor demand will be based upon types of tasks and order history. As a result, they now move more stock through the business in an effective and timely manner.
The increases have been dramatic: a 500% increase in the number of inbound containers processed every week; a 120% increase in the number of outbound trucks; and a doubling of the number of pallet moves every hour.
The system empowers resources to simply do more. The above increases were achieved with only a 20% increase to staffing levels.
This increase in throughput allowed Thomas Foods to meet the increasing sales volumes without expanding the facility or significantly adding resourcing.