Welcome to the first of Dakota Integrated Solutions’ exclusive customer interviews. Dakota spoke with Suzanne Williams, Regional Operations Manager at Univar Solutions, to find out how Dakota has worked with her and her Team to implement a new scanning solution within the company’s warehouse operation.
With over 90 years’ experience in manufacturing and distributing a variety of chemicals and with one of the largest private fleets in the industry, Univar Solutions are focused on delivering value-added services and market-leading products to their worldwide customer base, designed to help them leverage Univar’s deep industry knowledge in order to achieve growth and react more nimbly to ever-changing market conditions.
Dakota: What are your main areas of responsibility within Univar Solutions?
Suzanne Williams: Reporting directly to Univar’s UK Operations Director, my main area of responsibility is acting as the functional lead for warehousing throughout the UK to ensure that the performance levels within each of our UK sites, in terms of warehousing, transport and products, are continually improved and that each warehousing facility adheres to the company’s common operating procedures.
Dakota: How long have you been a Dakota customer?
Suzanne Williams: We started working with Dakota about 18 to 24 months ago.
Dakota: How did you first come into contact with Dakota?
Suzanne Williams: I was first introduced to Dakota via our IT Department who suggested that we work with them in order to upgrade our legacy Windows handhelds which were becoming old and subsequently no longer supported by the manufacturer due to their age. It was my task to replace this ageing technology so I started a dialogue with John Greenwood, Systems Integration Specialist at Dakota, in order to move the project forward. It was immediately apparent that we had quite a few performance gaps within our original solution, however John suggested a range of durable handheld scanners and the Moviliser Solution in order to bridge those gaps and to bring our new devices in line with our ERP system.
Dakota: Which products are you currently using?
Suzanne Williams: We are currently using Zebra DS3608-ER scanners (both Extended Range and ATEX Intrinsically Safe versions).
Dakota: How are the products used within your warehousing facility?
Suzanne Williams: The DS-3608 scanners are currently being used both inside our warehouse and externally within our yard storage areas, scanning product location barcodes and barcoded product labels. Products come into our warehouse from our suppliers, whereupon we produce a barcoded label for each pallet. The scanners are then used for product location put-away and ultimately for sales order picking and plant-to-plant product transfer. The scanners are also used for stock control and many internal housekeeping tasks such as product bin consolidation, the movement of products in and out of quarantine and product returns.
The scanners are linked via Bluetooth to our suite of iPads which run the Moviliser application, allowing all information to interface in real-time with our SAP ERP system.
Dakota: What type of product were you using before you deployed your Dakota product solution?
Suzanne Williams: Before we deployed the Zebra DS-3608 scanners we were using Zebra MC9090 mobile computers, however these needed replacing due to them becoming end-of-life and the introduction of our new company-wide iOS policy.
Dakota: What have been the main business benefits you have experienced/achieved as a result of your Dakota product solution?
Suzanne Williams: We have seen a number of business benefits as a result of deploying the new Dakota solution, primarily a huge reduction in data entry errors. With half a million data entry transactions per year we were becoming prone to data entry human error, colleagues not following pick lists correctly and wrong orders being sent out, resulting in product shelf life issues and a lot of time being spent rectifying incorrect orders. The introduction of the new scanners has enabled a much more streamlined process throughout our warehousing facility and a reduction in costs and time spent sorting out incorrect customer orders.
Dakota: What ERP system are you currently using?
Suzanne Williams: We are currently using the SAP ERP system.
Dakota: Why did you choose to work with Dakota on your warehouse automation project?
Suzanne Williams: When we first got in contact with Dakota they didn’t just provide us with a quote like many of the other companies we were in contact with. John really got under the skin of what we wanted to achieve from a new solution and came up with suggestions which nobody else had proposed to us.
He took the time to understand our requirements and pain points with the previous system which we had in place and offered total support in helping us to resolve them. He couldn’t have been more helpful and knowledgeable which is why we chose to work with Dakota to help us move the project forward.
Dakota: What are Dakota’s specific unique selling points (USPs)?
Suzanne Williams: Our experience with Dakota has proved time and time again that they are an extremely customer-focused organisation with a fantastic degree of knowledge about the products and solutions which they sell. They listened to what we had to say and gave viable, intelligent advice in order to help us achieve our end goal. John’s help and attention to detail was invaluable and as a result I had no problem in recommending Dakota to the rest of Univar’s operation, with a view to further rolling out the project with Dakota on a European and worldwide basis.
Dakota: Do you have any plans to extend your Dakota solution further or do you have any new applications which you are currently considering?
Suzanne Williams: We are currently looking into extending the solution across more of our UK sites in 2021, followed by our European sites. My colleagues in the US are also starting to evaluate the solution with a view to implementing it in the near future.
Dakota: How would you rate your experience with Dakota?
Suzanne Williams: Our experience with Dakota has been nothing short of exceptional. We really couldn’t have asked for more. They were so responsive to all of our questions and queries and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Dakota to anyone looking to improve upon and streamline their data collection and automation processes.