MusclePharm Case Study
By Rethinking Multi-Channel Fulfillment, MusclePharm Achieves 80% Efficiency of a Fully-Automated System at 20% of the Cost
The Client & Objective
MusclePharm is an industry-leading manufacturer and marketer of nutritional supplements for athletes. It distributes its products in over 45,000 retail outlets throughout 120 countries as well as direct to consumers through the company’s online store.
Adapt to a Multi-Channel World
MusclePharm needed to update its distribution center design and picking methods to support its fast growth and move into ecommerce order fulfillment.
At the time of partnering with MMCI Order Fulfillment, MusclePharm was using a manual, paper-based picking system based on “tribal knowledge.” The company had recently implemented Oracle’s NetSuite to manage their business but wanted MMCI to help improve the warehouse automation operation by:
1. Organizing the Put-Away Process
The current process provided vague insight as to where shipments were put-away so order picking was inefficient and product spoilage was a problem.
2. Installing Inventory Management Processes
MusclePharm needed a system that could weigh variables related to product expirations, shipping times and retailer specifications to determine which inventory to pick.
3. Implementing More Efficient Order Picking Methods
MusclePharm needed systems to efficiently process order profiles that ranged from full pallets for large retailers to individual products purchased through company’s online store.
MMCI conducted an on-site design study, evaluated order profiles and ultimately determined that with the proper warehouse design, the appropriate equipment and the deployment of multiple modules from the DCX Software Suite, we could achieve about 80% of the efficiency of a fully-automated solution at 20% of the cost.
We started by splitting MusclePharm’s distribution center into two sections so the inventory for individual orders could be separated from that for full case and pallet orders. We then specified and installed new racking and lift equipment to support this new design.
Finally, we deployed modules from the DCX Software Suite for inbound receiving validation, order management, workload balancing and system directed picking.
Rethinking Inventory Control
To track product received into the warehouse more effectively, we implemented the DCX Inventory Control Module. Now, as shipments arrive, an operator scans the labels and enters the amount received into a mobile device. The information is automatically posted back to the WMS which validates the order so DCX Software Suite can direct the operator where to slot it in the warehouse.
Rethinking Order Allocation
Retailer and customer orders come down from the ERP system, enter the DCX Software Suite and are allocated based on order type: Mixed Case, Full Case and Pallet.
Mixed Case Order Picking
For mixed cases, typically those generated by the company's online store, we configured the DCX Software Suite to release orders containing similar items to improve picking efficiency and ensure that no single area or picking zone was overwhelmed. Once released, operators use "Smart Carts" that tell the picker which box size to choose, where to pick and how many items to pick.
Full Case and Pallet Picking
For wholesale orders which were typically ordered in full-case or full-pallet quantities, we deployed the DCX Shipping Management Module. The software provides the intelligence to tell the picker where to pick the order - minimizing the occurrence of broken pallets - and where to take it - Parcel Delivery, LTL, Truckload or International. Since domestic and international pallet configurations differed, the DCX Cubing Module was utilized to ensured all pallets were configured properly.
Packing More Efficiently
Another challenge that MusclePharm wanted to address related to damage that was occurring because orders were being packed with heavy items on top of lighter more fragile items.
To address this, weight information was entered into the software and intelligence was applied that directed the order picker on how to assemble each order. In many cases, the order picking process was organized so that heavier items would be picked before lighter ones.
Streamlining Inventory Management
With orders now being picked from multiple locations in the warehouse, the DCX Software Suite looked to streamline the inventory management and replenishment processes while using the existing pallet storage and case flow racks.
The DCX Software Suite was programmed to apply customer rules related to LIFO/FIFO parameters along with logic to minimize broken pallets and intelligently slot all inventory and trigger replenishment requests via mobile devices based on priority level.
- Achieved 80% of the efficiency of a more fully-automated system at 20% of the cost.
- Developed new picking process that allowed MusclePharm to keep their desired slotting method while properly building pallets.
- Installed inbound tracking capabilities that reduced the number of partial pallets in the warehouse and sped the fulfillment of full-case and full-pallet orders.
- Deployed automatic system directed picking via mobile devices and Smart Carts that maximized picking efficiencies.
- Provided complete visibility of warehouse operations and inventory.
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