Life Extension is one of the world’s largest distributors of high-end nutrients, vitamins and supplements. As the name implies, the company focuses on helping customers extend their longevity as well as the quality of their health. Over 300 employees support over two million customers in the quest to live healthier lives.
The Life Extension executive team decided to implement lot control over inventory in their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne ERP system. The decision drivers for lot control included the desire to manage inventory more effectively, employ a more granular approach to first-in, first-out (FIFO) picking rules, and establish greater product traceability.
Jorge Gonzalez, Senior Business Analyst, explained, “We wanted tighter control over inventory at Life Extension. We needed rapid access to information that could answer questions about who received product, where a specific lot was distributed, and when those items had shipped.”
Prior to putting in RFgen, Life Extension used a manual process with manual pallet tags and notes to record where inventory was located in the warehouse. The warehouse team was unable to locate specifi lot numbers, and having warehouse employees investigate where inventory was located took time away from receiving inventory and fulfilling orders.
To enable lot control in the warehouse, Life Extension reviewed both RFgen and another solution Gonzalez had implemented and used for a previous employer. The team selected RFgen Mobile Foundations for Oracle’s JD Edwards for inventory management, purchase order receiving, and picking for order fulfillment.
RFgen is a suite of pre-built, Oracle-validated mobile data collection solutions that enables companies to benefit from real-time barcode data collection and roaming mobile applications while requiring zero footprint on the JD Edwards application server.
Of the two solutions considered, only RFgen offered source code that the company’s internal team could use to make modifications in-house.
“In my experience, one of the shortcomings of the other solution was that we never had the source code. Any modifications or customizations we had to do to meet our business needs required consulting. At Life Extension, we have in-house developers who understand VB Script applications. With RFgen, we have the source code after go-live to make minor modifications to the applications ourselves. That’s the biggest reason we chose RFgen,” Gonzalez said.
According to Gonzalez, RFgen met the company’s “very aggressive” time line for deployment and also created, tested and deployed modifications for a key process in just a couple of weeks when Life Extension decided the process needed modification.
Life Extension has improved its processes for receiving, inventory management and picking with RFgen. Using RFgen with JD Edwards, Life Extension was able to:
RFgen helps warehouse employees complete a three-step process to receive inventory on a purchase order. First, workers scan a UPC to identify products and ensure they have the correct PO.
“We’re able to accurately identify the inbound Purchase Order by scanning the case or bottle barcode. RFgen displays a list of open POs that include the item scanned allowing the warehouse to select the PO,” said Gonzalez.
“Warehouse workers are able to generate a barcode label which is affixed to the pallet/case. Next, RFgen helps by streamlining the inspection process for our quality control team by adjusting sample quantities out of inventory and releasing from Inspection to make the quantity available for put away.”
RFgen provides the tools for improved inventory management and greater information accuracy. Before RFgen, the Life Extension warehouse team managed inventory only to the item level, but now they have full visibility and tracking down to the lot level for every order. “I’ll be honest—it’s night and day inventory control. Our prior inventory system was only at the item level. Physically, we knew where things were from a report showing the original put away location. After that, we didn’t know how many units were still in that location or which lot numbers. We went from an item-level only inventory to having true visibility of item, location and lot number with RFgen.”
The granularity of this inventory information gives Life Extension better insight into real-time warehouse operations.
The company uses two different picking methods for bulk product orders (full boxes, cases or pallets) versus loose bottles. Orders for less than a full box are printed on pick tickets and employees have a pick zone set up as a conveyor line to fulfill them. RFgen automates picking of orders from bulk storage locations within the warehouse.
Life Extension assures customers that their orders will be fulfilled and shipped within the next business day. Directed picking and automated data collection helps the warehouse satisfy this guarantee. Employees use handhelds to pull orders by hard committing inventory at the bulk location using the scanned lot number and then moving on to pick the next line on the order.
To maintain hot-selling items in the most desirable warehouse locations, RFgen deployed Zebra printers and the Loftware label printing solution. In just a few seconds, the warehouse team can print labels for pallets and boxes.
When sales slow for an item, employees can quickly transfer inventory in RFgen, then print a new label and move it to a lower-velocity pick zone.
“If an item is coming in and it’s classified as a great seller, we’ll place it closer to the pick zones, so the commute back and forth for replenishment is shorter,” explained Gonzalez.
Working with the team at RFgen, Life Extension deployed automated data collection solutions in weeks and was able to modify them to match the company’s business processes. Gonzalez and other IT personnel received online training from RFgen and were able to train the warehouse team internally.
“RFgen has a really good team that makes sure their customer has what they need, both in solutions and training. Every company has unique business needs; that is what creates the competitive advantage of one company over another. I appreciated that RFgen was able to meet our unique business needs.”