With a vast inventory of more than 9,500 different parts, tools and accessories for outdoor power equipment, Rotary Corporation recently raised the bar for order fulfillment at its world headquarters in Glennville, Ga.
In July 2015, the company completed a major expansion of its shipping operations to improve its supply chain and meet expected sales projections for the next five years. After a busy summer season, the results have been impressive: On average, Rotary now ships a small parcel every 3.5 seconds with a same-day fulfillment rate of 99.9 percent.
“We began the journey with a detailed assessment and financial analysis of multiple alternatives,” explained Ed Nelson, Rotary president and CEO. “This ultimately resulted in a new and enhanced process flow for our shipping operations, including warehouse inventory management, automated voice selection, advanced handling equipment and a redesigned conveyor system.”
Upon completion of the final design, Rotary began the seven-month project, which included selection, procurement, delivery and installation of the equipment, plus the detailed implementation, transition and conversion plans.
“By integrating a new state-of-the-art order fulfillment system with voice recognition and conveyor sensors to verify product weight, Rotary is achieving 99.6-percent order accuracy while providing same-day shipping — even during peak seasons and heavy sales volume,” commented Donald Fountain, Rotary vice president of operations.
The advanced system features a two-level split-case order-picking area, reconfigured SKU split-case and full-case picking locations, and split-case pick-to-conveyors with automated transport to quality control and packing stations on a mezzanine level. A shipping sortation system cycles packages for various freight carriers along conveyors to a new loading area.
“A key component of the system is new voice command technology that has improved the order selection process,” explained Fountain. “Our associates in the shipping department utilize the voice-directed device to quickly and efficiently pick orders while data is maintained for inventory replenishment with real-time reporting and management tools.”
Considered the world’s largest supplier of outdoor power equipment parts, Rotary provides next-day delivery to more than 80 percent of the continental U.S. with same-day shipping for most orders received by 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Rotary’s primary distribution center in Glennville encompasses 250,000 square feet and is supported by an overflow storage facility that contains 70,000 square feet. Rotary also operates seven regional distribution centers strategically located in Texas, California, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, New York and Virginia.
“Our goal is to quickly and efficiently meet the demand of our customer base with an ongoing commitment to shipping American-made parts, which made up three out of every four parts we shipped in 2014,” added Nelson. “Sales growth and the demand for reliable next-day delivery prompted us to further enhance our distribution system.”
Nelson said the growing family-owned company relies on more than 450 employees who work with pride to provide the best service possible to customers in all 50 states and more than 63 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Canada, Australia and Africa.
With the culmination of a record-setting summer sales season, Fountain said, “Rotary has always taken exceptional pride in delivering quality products at very competitive prices. Now that our new automated shipping system is fully operational, we can support future sales growth by providing world-class service throughout our distribution network.
“The successful implementation and completion of this project would not have been possible without Blue Horseshoe Strategy and Supply Chain Divisions,” said Fountain. “They led us through the conception, definition, planning and execution.”