Sweet On HighJump's Software - InformationWeek

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10/28/2004
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Sweet On HighJump's Software

Candy company uses warehouse-management software to track inventory and make sure Halloween and Christmas treats are fresh

Trick-or-treaters who dug into their sacks this Halloween likely didn't bite into stale Now and Later, JujyFruits, or candy corn. Farley's and Sathers Candy Co., the maker of these and other sweets, now has better control over product expiration dates--and higher levels of product freshness--with a new warehouse-management system.

Farley's and Sathers uses HighJump Software Inc.'s Supply Chain Advantage warehouse-management system to track products and inventory that's spread across warehouses and packaging plants in Round Lake, Minn., and Chattanooga, Tenn., and in a manufacturing and packaging plant in Des Plaines, Ill. The software has helped the candy company control product rotations by automating inventory processes.

In the past, the company tracked lot codes (numbers that identify groups of products and their expiration dates), located products in warehouses, and rotated out aging products, all by hand. But with HighJump, Farley's and Sathers can scan bar codes and pick up lot codes from handheld readers instantly, which means there's less chance of error, says Roger Frisbie, facility manager at the Round Lake plant. Most important, HighJump has helped Farley's and Sathers reduce the amount of stale product, he says. "The system automatically places aged product on hold, whereas in the past we manually had to look at expiration dates," Frisbie says.

The fast-growing candy company implemented the software with HighJump's assistance at its Minnesota facility last year. This year, just in time for the candy-frenzied holidays of Halloween and Christmas, Farley's and Sathers implemented the software on its own at its Tennessee and Illinois facilities.

Warehouse management is at the heart of Supply Chain Advantage, which tracks the exact number and location of inventory, Frisbie says. Farley's and Sathers can create optimized work instructions and use the software's Web capabilities to track orders and shipments online. With greater visibility, the company can reduce backup inventory.

"We have seen improvements in inventory visibility because everything is at our fingertips with HighJump. With the warehouse advantage capability, we have several screens where we can look at our aged product or a certain item and see where they're stored," Frisbie says. "In the past, we didn't know what the lot code was or where the product was located exactly. But now we can drill down to each individual pallet, as opposed to looking at one quantity."

The warehouse-management market is well-established and growing at less than 5% a year, ARC Advisory Group analyst Steve Banker says. Many of the commercial systems available today are mature, and Banker says they're products that typically have a return on investment of less than two years.

HighJump's product stands out because the architecture lets businesses easily, quickly, and inexpensively implement the software to match specific processes, he says. Unlike its competitors, HighJump has been to able implement its software for a low cost and in a short period of time, he says. Supply Chain Advantage can cost between $100,000 and $500,000, depending on the size of a warehouse, and takes three to six months to implement, HighJump president Chris Heim says.

A successful warehouse-management implementation takes more than good software, Frisbie says. It requires a well-functioning IT infrastructure and coordination with the vendor. "In addition to having good software, it's very important to have a warehouse-management team that you meet with weekly, if not more often, to discuss issues, whether related to HighJump or to your own IT department," Frisbie says. And proof of the implementation's success is in the pudding--or in this case, the candy.

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