Kenco’s Chattanooga, TN warehouse has 474,000 square-foot dedicated to the worldwide distribution of service parts for its customer. Of the 474,000 square feet, 37,500 are dedicated to the storage of packaging materials and a packaging operation. Kenco’s partner has over 400 vendors that provide replacement components. Very few vendors have the capability to produce packaging and labeling to meet customer requirements. These requirements provide the end user a clearly labeled and well protected service component. Kenco’s customer needed to have storage capacity for packaging components, structure to provide the labor and setup to package what was at that time an unknown number of pieces. A bank of zebra printers was also needed to support 50+ varieties of label stock and produce whatever volume of labels was needed. Zebra printers are label printers that are tied to the WMS system, allowing a network for product information to travel through.
Kenco needed to develop a production area to support the needs of the facility. This area required IT access to the customer’s system in order to gather information specific to the packaging requirements of each product. The area needed to have production lines to support eight different types of packaging. A quality process was also needed to accurately identify the product throughout the entire packaging process and ensure conformity to expectations of the end product. At that time, only crating work existed at the Kenco facility. No standard packaging was being performed at the site and the network capability for sharing of packaging information was nonexistent.
Of the products received, 20 to 25% did not have routing and packaging information and requires additional administrative support to acquire needed information to process and package correctly. Auto-bagger was not able to be reliably linked to the label data base and therefore manual labels had to be applied to each bag and nearly doubled the labor demands of bagged product.
Through the course of the year, 13 packaging stations were developed at the Kenco facility. Roughly 350 rack storage locations were installed for the housing, inventorying and easy access to the packaging materials required by the packaging department. All packaging material inventory was recorded in the site WMS system for easy traceability. Eight thermal zebra printers and four PCs were installed and routed through the network to allow access to needed label database as well as for access to packaging requirements database. Small parcel receiving department was moved to the south end of the building to give it close access to the packaging area since most of the inbound that arrives in small parcel required packaging. Packaging sheets were designed and eventually automated to be produced at receipt of the product and accompany the product through the packaging process. Packing slip envelopes were implemented to ensure the packing sheets did not get separated from the product.
Kenco is now processing 1,000 product codes per week with between 25,000 and 35,000 pieces packaged. The end result is a clean looking product that is well protected from damage. We are processing 300 to 400 kits per week with the capacity to complete up to 600 in a week when demand requires it. Our continued communication is improving our customers database,reducing discrepancies and continuing to raise our production rate.
This solution allows Kenco’s partner to postpone packaging operation to last point of shipment with significant savings in transportation due to inbound bulk shipments from both domestic and international supplier locations. This postponement also supports the client’s multiple product brands, which often share the same components but have different packaging requirements.