The Symphony Group has enjoyed three decades of growth and expansion in all market sectors and offers an increasingly wide selection of individual product lines.
Whilst ever increasing order numbers were obviously excellent news for the companys bottom line, it was evident that, in order to maintain and improve levels of customer service, delivery and accuracy, there was a need for tailored warehousing and delivery systems. These systems would ensure accurate picking and shipping processes and enable an electronic, real-time proof of delivery system to confirm receipt of goods by the customer.
CSI installed a new wireless solution from Psion Teklogix at each of the companys seven warehouses. This improved efficiency and accuracy from the time that products were checked in to the warehouse, until the moment they were picked and loaded onto the lorries for delivery. Drivers were also equipped with Psion Teklogix wireless handheld data collection units. This enabled them to record an electronic proof of delivery signature, which could be transmitted, in real-time, back to a centralised IT network.
The new system has improved accuracy and efficiency across the Retail division, where it was initially implemented (as a result, the system is being rolled out across the business as a whole. In addition, the availability of real-time data capture and the electronic signature capture facility on Psion Teklogixs Workabout Pro units has increased product visibility. As a result, accuracy of delivered orders has improved dramatically on a year-on-year basis, achieving enviable levels of customer satisfaction.
The business challenge
The Symphony Group is one of Europes leading manufacturers of fitted home furniture and is the largest privately owned company of its kind in the UK. After 35 years of steady growth, the company has built a reputation for design, innovation, high quality products and excellent customer service. Its customer base encompasses the countrys major housebuilders where its products are fitted in thousands of new homes every year; housing association and local authority properties where it is widely specified by architects, contractors and clients alike. Its retail and export operation provides branded furniture to independent retail specialists throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East.
In order to maintain its reputation and continue to operate successfully in a highly competitive market, it was vital for The Symphony Group to sustain its focus on exceeding customers needs not just in terms of product design, but also through accurate, timely delivery of every piece of furniture. With seven warehouses and a fleet of 100 vehicles to manage it was important that the companys logistics processes and systems should have the resilience to cope with current and future requirements for product visibility and accuracy. Key criteria included minimising the risk of losing or misplacing goods as well as ensuring complete deliveries to keep the customer base satisfied.
The Symphony Group previously operated an in-house warehouse management system based on an Oracle platform that collected data using a radio frequency (RF) terminal. The system was used to scan stock as it came in, but did not have the flexibility to cope with the companys changing and expanding requirements for real-time data uploads, goods location within the warehouses or an immediate record that delivery had been made.
The time was obviously right for a change in technology. Upgrading the RF technology initially appeared to be the best option but closer analysis showed it would cost more than implementing a newer and more reliable system based on the 802.11 or GPRS standards. With these thoughts in mind, the companys management team met with leading business system integrator, CSI to discuss the kind of warehouse and logistics management system they required for the future.
Ruth Rew, Head of IT at the Symphony Group explains: Having worked with CSI across other areas of our business, we were confident that its consultants could advise us on the best replacement for our existing warehouse systems. After a number of discussions and a technology audit it became clear that we needed a way of capturing the real-time location of goods within each warehouse from the moment they arrived until the time they left for delivery.
It also became apparent that we required an external system that drivers could use to obtain proof of delivery. Finally, in order to provide a joined-up warehouse and logistics management solution, these two components had to integrate seamlessly and feed real-time results back to a central IT system. Once wed discussed these requirements in detail, CSI recommended that we invested in a fully integrated, real-time wireless solution from Psion Teklogix.
We can now demonstrate unequivocally that the system is delivering what it promised in terms of guaranteeing stock availability when and where its required, thereby making the incidence of anything less than 100 per cent delivery accuracy extremely rare.
CSI delivered a joined-up system based on Psion Teklogixs Workabout Pro wireless hand held data collection units and centralised warehouse management software. The resulting solution made The Symphony Groups products visible in real-time from the moment they arrived at one of the companys warehouses, through the entire picking and packing process until the time that the end-user signed to accept delivery.
Ruth Rew, at the Symphony Group continues: The solution was competitively priced and the Workabout Pros are rugged enough to handle the everyday wear and tear in a busy warehouse. Also, the units are extremely easy to use particularly as they have large colour screens. Furthermore, they can establish wireless connections using either 802.11 or GPRS standards, so warehouse staff can quickly locate products without encountering any connectivity problems unlike our previous solution.
The Workabout Pros however really come into their own when used by drivers to collect electronic proof of delivery. Once the recipient signs for their order on the Workabout Pro, the data is transmitted via GPRS back to The Symphony Groups central IT system. Psion Teklogixs solution therefore improves accuracy and efficiency on the warehouse floor and out on the road. In addition, the highly scaleable nature of the supporting wireless infrastructure means that The Symphony Group has the ability to add further mobile and wireless solutions in the future with only a small financial outlay.
About Psion Teklogix Inc.
Psion Teklogix is a global provider of solutions for mobile computing and wireless data collection. The companys fully integrated mobile computing solutions include rugged hardware; secure wireless networks, robust software, professional services and exceptional support programs. Psion Teklogix is committed to helping its customers reap the benefits of new and emerging technologies, including image capture and RFID. With over three decades of industry experience, Psion Teklogix has customers in more than 80 countries around the world, and over 36 sales and support offices in 17 countries. Psion Teklogix is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, with additional corporate offices in America, Europe and Asia. Psion Teklogix is the operating business of Psion PLC, which is publicly listed in the London Stock Exchange (PON.L). For more information, visit www.psionteklogix.com
Established in 1983 and with offices in Leeds, Nottingham and Oxford, CSI is one of the UKs leading business system integrators. With over 100 staff supporting a wide range of customers across a number of sectors, CSI has the in-house technical skills to develop, design and manage all aspects of networks, systems, applications and e-business solutions he experience and expertise to help businesses reach their IT goals. For further information, visit www.csiltd.co.uk