Callico Distributors lays a strong foundation for future growth

IBM Power Systems deliver speed and performance for advanced customer service and voice picking

Published on 08-Nov-2012

"The return on our investment is even greater because we can grow our business without adding new employees. Instead, we are improving the performance of our existing employees. But if we do hire additional employees, our system is ready to support them." - Chip DiFolco, IT Director, Callico Distributors

Customer:
Callico Distributors

Industry:
Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
IGF, Automation, Business Performance Transformation, Energy Efficiency

IBM Business Partner:
Maximum Computer Systems, Data Storage Corporation

Overview

Since 1981, Callico Distributors of Taunton, Massachusetts has always taken pride in going the extra mile for its customers and helping them to serve their customers. With a staff of more than 70 employees, this family-owned and operated company redistributes more than 4,000 disposable items purchased in bulk from various manufacturers to its customers, who are independent distributers. Its customers, in turn, deliver these paper, plastics and janitorial supplies to businesses, hospitals, nursing homes and schools throughout six New England states and parts of upstate New York.

Business need:
Callico Distributors needed the speed and power necessary to streamline its business operations while also laying the groundwork for new technologies designed to improve customer service.

Solution:
The IBM i Solution Edition for Infor built with an IBM® Power® 720 server running IBM i delivers speed and performance for daily operations and adds support for advanced voice-picking technology.

Benefits:
Callico was able to achive faster everyday operations. Along with Improved business continuity with disaster-recovery capabilities. And create a foundation for voice-picking technology, which is expected to reduce picking errors to less than one per every 1,000

Case Study

Since 1981, Callico Distributors of Taunton, Massachusetts has always taken pride in going the extra mile for its customers and helping them to serve their customers. With a staff of more than 70 employees, this family-owned and operated company redistributes more than 4,000 disposable items purchased in bulk from various manufacturers to its customers, who are independent distributers. Its customers, in turn, deliver smaller quantities of these paper, plastics and janitorial supplies to businesses, hospitals, nursing homes and schools throughout six New England states and parts of upstate New York.

Trading up to more power

The company’s process is this: each day, the Callico purchasing department orders goods from various manufacturers. As the goods arrive, the company inventories them and stores them in the warehouse. Later in the day, warehouse workers pick the goods that make up the next day’s order for each distributor. The trucks are loaded and wait for the drivers to come in to deliver the orders. At 4:30 the next morning, more goods arrive. The goods go out, more goods come in, and so it goes—five days a week, 52 weeks a year.

To keep this process running smoothly, Callico uses Infor10 Distribution iBusiness (A+) distribution management solution, which provides integrated warehouse management, purchasing, accounting and fulfillment capabilities. IBM and Infor have collaborated for 30 years creating optimized software solutions that run on a broad range of IBM platforms.

For Callico to speed the flow of work among its various operations, the company upgraded from an IBM Power 520 server to the IBM i Solution Edition for Infor built with an IBM Power 720 server running the IBM i 6.1 operating system.

The transition was surprisingly easy—a good thing, too, since Callico’s IT director Chip DiFolco is a one-person department. “I do everything from replacing ink toner, to preparing capital expenditure budgets, to network administration,” he says. “I’m on call 24x7.” Working with IBM Business Partner Maximum Computer Systems, DiFolco completed the transition to the new server in a single weekend. Maximum Computer Systems backed up the older server on a tape drive and copied all the systems to the new server. After testing to make sure the information each employee needed was unchanged, DiFolco and the new system were ready to go first thing Monday morning.

Gaining speed and efficiency

Says DiFolco, “The difference in performance and speed between the two servers is like night and day.” Employees using an inquiry program see their screens respond more quickly. They can run reports faster—in fact, they’re limited only by the speed of our printers. Purchasers navigating among screens to make decisions on what to buy can do so faster. “I can also see the difference in speed when I make source code changes” adds DiFolco. “Compiling is much faster now.”

Together, these improvements are helping just about everyone to do their jobs more quickly, which, in turn, is enabling Callico to make good on its promise to provide the best possible service to customers. “The return on our investment is even greater because we can grow our business without adding new employees,” explains DiFolco. “Instead, we are improving the performance of our existing employees. But if we do hire additional employees, our system is ready to support them.”

Ensuring business continuity

In addition to helping its employees do their jobs quickly, Callico also makes sure they can continue working reliably—even during an outage. To ensure availability for its distribution management system, Callico uses a disaster recovery system—SafeData/DR from IBM Business Partner Data Storage Corporation. This solution provides backup and recovery functions for IBM System i. For backup, the solution uses electronic vaulting to back up the company’s data each day over the Internet using a virtual private network appliance, which provides security for data transfers. The solution also includes a remote server that is hosted by Data Storage Corporation and automatically takes over the distribution management system in the event of an outage. In a disaster event, the solution restores the company’s data to the hosted server and automatically redirects users to the server, providing the business continuity capabilities to help the company quickly resume operations.

Getting orders right

Looking ahead toward future projects, the company hopes to streamline its picking and loading of orders for distributors using its new IBM server. Currently, warehouse workers must locate the items a distributor needs, use a cumbersome handheld gun to scan them and then load them onto a pallet. But with voice-activated picking technology, workers could use a lightweight headset to interact with the warehouse inventory system, which would tell them where the items are located and the quantity to pick. The system would confirm the quantity as the worker puts it onto the pallet and then tell the worker where to go next. When the order is complete, the system would indicate this, and all the worker would have to do is take the pallet to the dock and get his or her next assignment.

This solution could free up the workers’ hands and eliminate all paperwork. Workers could simply keep moving. In addition, the system would know the warehouse layout, so it could route workers along the most efficient path, reducing picking errors to less than one per every 1,000. At the same time, it could ensure that heavier items are picked first, so that pallets are built properly—for example, loading boxes of Styrofoam cups on top of heavy items and not the other way around.

Now that it is equipped with a faster, more powerful server, Callico Distributors is well positioned to leverage advanced technologies in its ongoing quest for better customer service.

For more information

Contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit us at: ibm.com/systems/power

For more information about Infor solutions, visit: infor.com/product_summary/distribution/aplus

For more information about IBM Business Partner Maximum Computer Systems, visit: maximumcomputer.com

For more information about IBM Business Partner Data Storage Corporation, visit: dscorp.net

For more information about Callico Distributors, visit: callico.com

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power Systems

Software:
IBM i

Legal Information

IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America November 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, and Power are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.