Suncoast Beverage Sales, Ltd. is an Anheuser-Busch affiliated distributor and one of the top ten beer wholesalers in Florida.
The company distributes to restaurants, bars, grocery stores, warehouse clubs and convenience stores in Fort Myers, Florida. Switching from paper based to voice directed case picking, Suncoast increased its case and pallet picking accuracy to 99.9 percent, improved its distribution center’s productivity by 20 percent, reduced labor hours, and cut truck loading time.
Beyond the core AB Products, the 56,000 square foot DC handles a growing number of craft and micro brews, and a small but growing inventory of wine coolers and non-alcoholic beverages such as iced teas, energy drinks and waters. “We had been using a paper-based picking system,” says Tim Mitchell, President of Suncoast. “It was a very slow and frequently difficult process with a high potential for mistakes, but was somewhat effective when we didn’t carry so many SKUs.
“As our SKU count increased and space became critical in the warehouse, we were looking at how to take the thinking process out of our receiving and replenishing functions, and the loading of our fleet,” explains Mitchell. “Our interest to automate our picking escalated when we saw Dematic’s voice picking systemin operation at a Pepsi distribution facility nearby. We could see how this computer-based system did the thinking for the DC, and how it could increase efficiency and reduce laborhours in our warehouse. ”Suncoast selected the PickDirector software suite for voice-based control of its picking, quality assurance, manifesting and truck loading. These functions all used to require paper-based, manual validation. “We selected Dematic because of their broad customer base, experience invoice picking and their responsiveness to customizing the software to make it better for everyone,” said Cliff Hodges,IT Director at Suncoast.
For Suncoast, its new picking automation has increased accuracy and efficiency in its warehouse. The company has seen reduced order errors, faster truck loading and realized a 20 percent increase in cases per labor hour productivity. “We saw a major decrease in our errors in the warehouse going onto the trucks from night loading,” Mitchell continues. “Our latest numbers show a 99.9 percent accuracy rate.”