Wireless warehouses boost manufacturer acquisition

The UK's biggest soft furnishings maker's rollout of a Wi-Fi barcode system is poised to smooth the integration of a recent acquisition and build on process and productivity improvements.

Primeur, the UK's biggest manufacturer, importer and distributor of soft furnishings is in the final stages of implementing a wireless data communication system that will facilitate integration of a newly acquired company.

Glynn Robinson, Primeur systems manager, told IT PRO that the company is in the midst of completing a recent acquisition that will boost turnover from 25 million per annum to 35 million and the company will look to capitalise on its recent wireless supply chain work by extending it to the newly merged operations.

"It's imperative our warehouse systems are efficient as we take on more stock through this acquisition and the RF network will definitely help with that," he said.

The Wi-Fi barcode warehouse system has been rolled out in a phased, five-year project across the company's three warehouses, with the last warehouse going live late last year.

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The project has boosted efficiency and accuracy, enabling the company to handle a product line of over 1,126 stock keeping units (SKUs), with about five million individual items per year being imported from suppliers in India and Europe to serve retailers like Argos, B&Q and Wilkinsons.

Robinson added: "We have also looked at the systems that were originally rolled out to our main warehouse, recently updating our hardware and access points in that warehouse. The last bit of work we want in place by this March is software based, modifying the screens of new scanners to be compatible with our systems."

The entire Bingley-based Primeur site is equipped with 20 Proxim Wi-Fi access points, comprising an appropriate mix of AP700 and AP500 devices, which enable real-time data collection and communication using handheld computers equipped with barcode scanners over a radio frequency (RF) network designed and installed by specialist provider, Barcoding.co.uk.

The devices run terminal emulation and talk directly to Primeur's Strategix enterprise resource planning (ERP) system so operators place the correct item in the correct stock bin. Robinson said the use of portable terminals to assist with picking, has increased productivity four-fold.

"This is the right approach for us and has eliminated vast amounts of paper, which reduces operational and environmental costs and significantly boosts accuracy," said Robinson.


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