White Paper

Petzl America Ascends To The Next Level Of Distribution

Petzl America, a leading distributor of climbing, mountaineering and safety equipment, needed to streamline distribution operations in order to continue to meet customer compliance requirements and changes in order fulfillment characteristics. With a significant increase in piece picking, Petzl globally agreed to identify and design a distribution environment that will manage their growth for the next five years.

Petzl America had several overall objectives for their warehouse operation. They needed to increase their capacity to handle "detail pick" parcel and special processes, increase efficiency of their storage space and reduce re-handling of products, and increase throughput efficiency and maximize human resources.

The French-based company teamed with Cornerstone Solutions, a leading provider of Supply Chain Services, to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that would meet their distribution needs, while improving efficiencies across their entire supply chain. Their first step was to work together to establish a vision for the overall project. It included the following elements: to develop a customer-focused and value-centered warehousing strategy; to create a flexible design for the best use of space and most efficient product flow; to engineer the warehouse to move (not store) inventory; and to make effective use of SSA Global Warehouse Management to achieve optimal results with provided resources.

The team did a detailed review and analysis of the France and Utah operations, including inbound operations, inventory control, value-added processing and outbound operations. Once this analysis was completed, it was critical to identify the amount of product anticipated and the demand forecasted to appropriately layout the facility.

The analysis identified several areas where operational improvements were made, such as a redesigned warehouse layout for best use of space and more efficient product flow, and the development of a new picking module to automate Petzl's picking process. In addition, the team evaluated key performance indicators (KPI's) such as picking metrics, lines per order/carton, and location fill rates.

Petzl America's case and piece picks are now effectively handled by the mezzanine. Outbound parcels are then delivered via the conveyor system to the dock or special projects area for processing. Petzl America and Cornerstone Solutions designed stations throughout the warehouse for value added processing such as product ticketing and pack-by-store consolidation. Petzl America also made operational changes to help them increase their throughput. They are now able to ship orders out the same day they are received.

In addition, Cornerstone Solutions set up SSA Global Warehouse Management to handle specific customer compliance requirements including product ticketing, direct-to-store shipping, packaging by store and special labeling such as UCC-128 and kit management as a default standard of business.

"Our initial implementation of SSA Global Warehouse Management with Cornerstone Solutions was very successful, so we wanted to work with them again on our upgrade and new warehouse layout," said Peggy Powell, Director of Logistics, Petzl America. "Since the Cornerstone team is both logistics and software savvy, they were able to help us meet all of our business objectives in a timely and cost effective manner."

While Petzl America successfully implemented SSA Global Warehouse Management in 1999, they also relocated their distribution center from Georgia to Utah during this same period. The timing of the relocation did not allow them to design the appropriate square-foot warehouse based on forecasted demand. Petzl has seen many added benefits from their warehouse reorganization, especially in the areas of labor efficiency, customer service, inventory accuracy and efficiency.

Specifically, Petzl now has increased management of inbound containers, which are processed within 24 hours. Historically, this would take several days. In addition, they have increased order fulfillment and seen an increase in productivity of 38 percent. The time they have saved in fulfillment now allows employees to focus time and energy on meeting special customer requirements. Their location fill rates are significantly improved and fewer replenishments are needed. Petzl is now prepared for future growth without having to worry about needing additional space.

"Our supply chain is incredible: it's very powerful," said Powell. "The DC has been able to increase throughput dramatically with fewer people, which means that employees can focus on meeting the ever-changing demands of our customers. We now consistently meet specific compliance requirements without impacting our throughput."

Petzl America hasn't stopped with their current success—they continue to evaluate opportunities for improvement every day. In addition to seeking continuous improvement, Petzl America is confident that the partnership they have established with Cornerstone Solutions, will enable them to face whatever new logistics challenges the future may bring.