Eric Van Leeuwen
Sr. Manufacturing Engineer
Lakeside manufactures and supplies stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic mobile equipment providing unique benefits and solutions for the foodservice, clinical healthcare, and material handling markets. With over 50 years experience, Lakeside offers a diverse product line that transports, stores, heats, cools, serves, dispenses, organizes, displays, and merchandises. To meet the dynamic aspect of the industries they serve, Lakeside is continually engineering new products and updating existing products to stay in tune with industry trends and its customers’ unique needs.
“We run a lean organization,” stated Eric Van Leeuwen, Sr. Manufacturing Engineer, Lakeside Manufacturing. “We try to flip orders in three to five days but we have a diverse product set servicing several major industries. We don’t keep a large inventory so we need to optimize our receiving to ensure we obtain quality parts.”
Lakeside wanted the ability to scan all incoming parts and match them to the PO they received them under.
“Before I started working at Lakeside, I worked in many automated distributions centers,” Eric explained. “When I came to Lakeside, I saw many processes could be automated. The company ran a successful manufacturing business yet did things the same old way. Their receiving operations required layers of manual intervention and paper record creation.”
Lakeside purchased the RFgen Mobile Foundations for JD Edwards solution, a portable Wyse terminal, a few wireless scanners, and a printer which connected to the server. With the RFgen solution implemented, the clerk scanned the PO when the parts came in. The screen prompted the user to enter the reference number of the PO followed by all required information line by line including the part number, the part description, and the quantity received.
“The RFgen system provides senior clerks the ability to receive the entire PO at once,” explained Eric. “New employees must accept items individually to guarantee accuracy until they are sufficiently experienced with the system. As the clerk scans items line by line, a label is generated listing the part number and description, the referenced PO number, the date received, who received it, and the location where the part is stored. The parts are then packaged with the label. By scanning all received parts, things go rapidly with no accidental typos or errors.”
With RFgen in place, Lakeside was able to reduce parts receiving and packaging time by 5 hours per day, eliminate manual data entry errors, enhance inventory control and reduce new user training time from two months to approximately 5 minutes.
The RFgen system improved product quality reaching the customer. “We maintain a database of all part number descriptions and associated diagrams. As the clerk scan the part, the system prompts the user for incoming part quality information. It will identify and flag vendors who did not meet our requirements in past shipments. The part diagram appears as a drawing, picture, or a Microsoft Word document that gives direction how to inspect the part such as the part length, outer diameter or finish. The user must enter the answers to determine if the part meets Lakeside’s requirements. If yes, the clerk continues to the next item. If not, a ‘hold’ label is printed with the part information.
The RFgen software also automatically generates an email sent to engineering, purchasing, and the inventory control group for verification. The part goes into a physical holding location and will not show up in inventory. A manager must inspect the part to determine if it is acceptable. If not, they determine if it can be fixed or returns it to the vendor. In addition, if the receiving clerk receives more than a 110% overage, an alert is generated and the part is put on hold until a purchasing agent can approve the over shipment. Our ability to plan, forecast, and make better decisions is significantly enhanced when employees operate with detailed and accurate information,” explained Eric.
“We order parts well in advance since many have long lead times,” explained Eric. “Before implementing the RFgen solution, we often received something without looking at it and put it on the shelf until we needed it. Unfortunately, when we opened the box, we discovered something wrong causing a rushed reorder and expedited shipping to receive it quickly. We often found either obsolete or out of warranty parts also. This resulted in increased costs and missed customer shipment deadlines.”
“RFgen dramatically improved productivity, timeliness, and accuracy of our receiving and inventory systems. Before implementing the RFgen solution, our receiving clerk was spending 7 hours each day performing administrative tasks such as completing the paperwork by hand, filling out labels, and determining where things went. The simple act of moving to a paperless system reduced that time from 7 hours to just 2 hours per day and there are virtually no mistakes in product delivery due to the new verification process. Our receiving clerk now contributes to other company operations.”
“We are so pleased with the functionality of RFgen for our receiving operations we plan to implement it for our Central Packaging group,” said Eric. “The RFgen solution will use the received part labels and the product model numbers we plan to build. One side of the screen will list the “Build Pack” information, the other will contain the finished product information with correct packing instructions. We also plan to expand the RFgen solution to enhance Facility Management by assigning locations to all bins with skid locations. This will be a great time saver for our organization since we track over 2,000 parts.”
“Some of our managers and users were skeptical at first. When they were able to see the RFgen software in action and see how smooth it was, they were smiling. Now receiving flows from beginning to end. The RFgen solution reduced errors, streamlined processes, generated accurate inventory, and improved our ability to ship product on time and under budget.”