Scaling fast-food warehouse operations in a best-case scenario

Scaling fast-food warehouse operations in a best-case scenario

Editor’s note: Vertical focuses on specific verticals within the supply chain, highlighting the latest trends and news. It appears on the fourth Monday of each month. This month, we are looking at food and beverage. If you are interested in future topics, you can see a full list of upcoming topics on our Editorial Calendar.

When a regional, West Coast fast-food restaurant wanted to collapse two of its warehouses into a newly built facility in Chino, California, it faced the challenge of streamlining operations. Project management and governance, implementing best practices, and enabling the necessary IT capabilities were just a few of the issues that arose.

Scaling fast-food warehouse operations in a best-case scenario

The chain also wanted to implement Körber’s Warehouse Advantage warehouse management system (WMS) in the new facility since it was familiar with the system, which was operating in two additional locations. More support was needed, however, to make this a reality.

“Every project that we get is different. That said, over the past 22 some years we’ve been doing this, we have recognized it’s really important to have a methodology and ensure when we take on these projects, there is a method to the process and all the I’s are doting and the T’s crossed.”

Enter enVista. The end-to-end supply chain consulting firm has a long history of working with Körber, along with many other solutions providers, and seemed a good fit to see the project through to completion. enVista would provide testing, documentation, go-live support and overall product management.

“Every project that we get is different,” explained Amit Kirpalani, vice president of supply chain solutions at enVista. “That said, over the past 22 some years we’ve been doing this, we have recognized it’s really important to have a methodology and ensure when we take on these projects, there is a method to the process and all the I’s are doting and the T’s crossed.”

The case study

The fast-food chain had already completed an initial WMS design for the facility which enVista reviewed. The client wanted confirmation its design met industry and organizational best practices and would meet the needs of associates in the warehouse and across the business environment.

enVista engaged with the clients warehouse workers, looking for any gaps in the design. A review of technology and automation to be deployed—and what was already deployed—was conducted to ensure a smooth integration, and a review of the current state processes was undertaken to ensure the new WMS would be able to accommodate and enhance them.

“We’re looking at current state, pain points and what are the areas [to address],” Kirpalani said. “We want to be able to work with the client to design that future state. And that future state is part of the current state, but also addressing pain points. We put together what the future state looks like and then we” connect with the vendor to make sure the system can address the needs.

Once the overall needs were identified, enVista analyzed the WMS design to ensure it met those needs and provided feedback to the client. This allowed adjustments to be made before implementation.

Following completion of the design and analysis, enVista went to work creating technical documentation and a “description of operations” document, the latter was for a high-level audience within the warehouse that detailed how the WMS would be leveraged from an operational impact perspective.

Regression testing, end-to-end testing, user-acceptance testing, and field-acceptance testing all followed.

“If you haven’t locked down the design in the design phase, you are never going to be successful in the testing phase,” Kirpalani said. “We are very picky about making sure we follow the process.”

Once all the testing was complete, enVista handled the master data migration and provided 24/7 go-live support as the plan was implemented. enVista continued to offer its expertise to supplement Körber’s support team moving forward.

“The workforce adapts to better if it comes from one of their own and it allows them to be sustainable in the long term. We are there when the actual training happens. The trainer that we train is really the one giving the training, but we are in the classroom. That allows us to make an assessment of [the trainer’s ability].”

That is an important part of the process, but one that Kirpalani said is not a long-term process. In fact, enVista utilizes a “train the trainer” approach.

“The workforce adapts to better if it comes from one of their own and it allows them to be sustainable in the long term,” Kirpalani said. “We are there when the actual training happens. The trainer that we train is really the one giving the training, but we are in the classroom. That allows us to make an assessment of [the trainer’s ability].”

Kirpalani made two points about the enVista process. First, the testing process is vital, but it is not to ensure everything works, instead, enVista tests “to break the system, not to pass the system.”

“I think it is a sense of appreciation for that level of due diligence because anything you catch at testing is 10 times more painful at go-live,” Kirpalani said.

Second, the design process needs to address future needs. In the case of this fast-food company, they have several facilities. Once the system is up and running in one, if the design was handled correctly, the company would likely be able to handle rollout in additional facilities. enVista is, of course, available should the need arise.

The ultimate goal is to standardize as much as possible and many clients are not standardized, which makes scaling difficult.

“When we go into design, we are not just looking at that first site, we are looking at a global design that works at all sites,” Kirpalani said. “By the time we are done with site one and site two, there are hundreds of people that have the [experience] to [scale across other sites].”

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