The cheese company Sargento Foods Inc. implemented SAPConsole in June in order to reduce delays and errors in its warehouse management system. In the cheese business, system inefficiencies can mean the difference between moldy and fresh mozzarella.
"Our focus was cheese only," said Betty Weiler, a project leader at the company, which is based in Plymouth, Wis. "Cheese changes over time, and that was our main concern."
Today, Weiler and her team are toasting their success. They implemented SAPConsole, an application that connects data collected by bar-code scanners directly to the warehouse management system. That was a drastic change from the handwritten notes that were previously scribbled on containers and boxes of cheese in the warehouse.
Weiler said SAPConsole did not have out-of-the-box functionality. It also lacked the ability to meet the specific needs of the food industry, forcing Sargento to hire an ABAP programmer to build eight custom tracking applications, she said.
Today, though, inventory accuracy rates at the warehouse are close to 99%, Weiler said.
The move to bar coding was expensive for Sargento, Weiler said. The company paid between $4,000 and $6,000 for each of the more than 50 scanners.
A second team is beta-testing radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which allows for the use of tiny tags to track products. Sargento is considering RFID technology for some outbound shipments, Weiler said.
"Our biggest savings is having the people in the office no longer doing the constant chasing down of the errors and inventory problems," Weiler said.
There are nearly 1,000 SAPConsole installations being used for bar-code transactions, SAP says. The company contends the application will remain useful even with the advent of RFID. Bar coding will continue to be used in warehouses for years to come, said Patti Gardner, SAPConsole product manager.
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