Technology and automation can help companies of all sizes deal with the impact of increased complexity in the warehouse.
Forney’s Growing Challenges
Since 1932, Forney Industries has been one of America’s longest operating, family-owned, welding and metalworking companies. Nearly a century later, Forney Industries offers thousands of metalworking products within four categories: welding, abrasives, personal protective equipment (PPE) and shop tools. Forney has an extensive customer network, consisting of nearly 20,000 businesses in the automotive aftermarket, hardware, farm & ranch, do-it-yourself and industrial industries. The fourth-generation family owned and operated company remains dedicated to the customers in addition to being an award-winning employer that values what it means to be innovative, genuine, exceptional and engaged.
Within the last 10 years, Forney’s business has doubled brining its own challenges, primarily finding a way to differentiate and innovate within their industry while being flexible and scalable for future growth. Their growth has presented them with a unique challenge of having to automate greenfield and brownfield facilities while also minimizing downtime.
The Road to Transformation
While looking for a WMS solution, Forney connected with Körber Supply Chain for the SMB (small to medium business) offering. During the discovery process it became evident that there was an opportunity to have autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) help meet some of the growth, scale and labor challenges Forney had. The relationship with Locus allowed Körber to come to the table with a low cost, easy point of entry for flexible automation that achieve those objectives while providing a rapid ROI. A major success in the launching of the AMR solution was the minimal downtime. Within less than 24 hours, the team at Forney was able to deploy the Locus bots and addressed any of the issue, experiencing little to no business interruption.
Seeing the Impact
Since one of the objectives for Forney was improving labor efficiency, it was a major success to see how much the employees love the utilization of the Locus bots. Having the bots on the floor minimized the physical impact on the warehouse employees. It also provided them the ability to utilize the minutes long training process to allow non-warehouse employees help on the floor when there are surges of orders. On the performance side, Forney has had a 2X increase in lines per hour and the goal is to build on that improvement.
The achievement of the 2X improvement in picking productivity was just the beginning. The Korber and Locus partnership allows companies to not just improve the quantity of picks but also quality of picks and improvements in receiving and put-aways.
Forney is always thinking 3 to 5 years out and is enthusiastic about the upcoming WMS implementation and learning what are the needs that can be met with continued automation advancement as the business needs evolve.
Companies need to understand what is changing in their market and how they can evolve to meet those changes. Incremental improvements, whether to picking or receiving or around labor efficiency and sustainability, can have significant impacts on the warehouse operations. Companies, in the ecommerce field especially, that are looking to increase productivity can benefit from any of the flexible automation solutions offered by partners like Körber and Locus.