Vygon goes for RF and barcoding with Empirica
Medical and surgical products supplier Vygon (UK) Ltd has chosen the Empirica warehouse management system from Chess Logistics Technology for its distribution centre in Cirencester. This will be the first time that Vygon (UK) Ltd has employed computerised warehouse management. The company selected Empirica because it offered an excellent technical solution to increase efficiency and maintain their level of customer service, while achieving regular, annual sales growth and can be adapted to changing business requirements. The solution devised by Chess will incorporate hand-held radio frequency barcode terminals for real time data accuracy and be integrated with Vygon’s existing business applications to deliver improved business performance.
“Chess has a very good system with Empirica which fulfils all our existing requirements but which can be modified to suit our future needs,” says Richard Collins, Project Manager at Vygon (UK) Limited. “We predict a quick return on the investment.”
The Vygon Group is a global manufacturer of single-use medical and surgical products. Internationally it designs, manufactures and markets more than 100 million products in 110 countries, all in accordance with ISO 9001 and EN 46001 standards. Its UK business, based in Cirencester, was established in the 1970s and now supplies the whole of the NHS in the UK; NHS Trusts and NHS Supply Chain.
The company had some well established warehouse procedures that were managed using a combination of bin cards and paper documents. These have worked well but as the business has continued to grow the company recognised that it could improve efficiency and achieve process savings by making greater use of the barcodes generated by its manufacturing divisions and third party suppliers. After an initial assessment of its requirements the company decided to go even further.
“We realised that we needed a WMS and not just a barcode facility,” says Richard Collins. “The warehouse was efficient but relied on lots of manual checks which we are now hoping to reduce.”
Vygon reduced an initial list of 15 potential suppliers to a shortlist of four before selecting Empirica. In addition to the functionality of the application one of the biggest factors in the decision was the commitment from Chess to work closely with Vygon to deliver a solution which met its very demanding and specific requirements.
“We wanted to work with a WMS company that would help us and not impose their system,” says Richard Collins. “Chess has been very helpful without being pushy.”
The warehouse stocks around 1300 products. One of the key operational requirements from the WMS was to support complex incoming and outgoing delivery procedures. Supplying a major customer like the NHS can be complex because each part of the organisation, from central purchasing to individual clinics, has different ordering procedures and paperwork. Vygon has developed a number of unique packing and despatch processes to ensure it meets its customers’ requirements, including special schemes devised in conjunction with the NHS to streamline purchasing, and the WMS has to be capable of working with these. The WMS also has to cope with consignments from the Vygon Group in France as well as smaller suppliers in USA, the far East and elsewhere in Europe which may be delivered by different methods.
Empirica will be deployed in conjunction with 14 handheld barcode terminals and seven label printers, installed at various points in the goods inward and despatch areas of the warehouse, to support real time inventory control and high data accuracy. It will be integrated with Vygon’s existing eProcurement and System 21 applications to enable a seamless flow of information. The system is expected to go live in the third quarter of 2007 and because this is a completely new installation Chess will be working closely with Vygon to ensure that the transition from the paper based operation is as smooth as possible. Empirica’s modular design and support for additional processes provides Vygon with potential to adapt and upgrade as its business requirements evolve.
“This is a major change programme for us and we didn’t expect to become experts from day one,” says Richard Collins. “We’re learning a lot and Chess has helped us with a number of issues, for example with advice on interfacing with our ERP and supplying equipment for us to trial. Our dealings with Chess have been rewarding and productive.”
Empirica offers modern logistics operations a powerful combination of warehouse management functionality with advanced standard interface capabilities. It provides the optimum solution for supply chain integration with customers and partners through configurable EDI and web-based access to real time stock information. Empirica covers all key elements of warehouse management and is designed for rapid implementation to support in-house, third party and contract based warehouse operations using real-time mobile RF, voice-directed or RFID applications.
Chess Logistics Technology Limited has provided software for logistics and distribution applications for more than twenty years and is recognised as a specialist in its field. The company has an extensive client list of national and international companies.