23 Oct

FastFetch and BuySeasons Recognized as a Finalist for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award

OCTOBER 23, 2018

PENDLETON, SC – FastFetch, a technology development company located in Pendleton, SC, and BuySeasons, a major eCommerce supplier of costumes and party supplies located in New Berlin, WI, were jointly recognized among five finalists for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  The award is presented annually by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and Supply Chain Brain.  This year’s five finalists were selected from more than 100 entries. The other finalists included Intel, Pfizer, Schneider Electric, and Kansas City Railway.

The recognition was based upon the application of technologies developed by FastFetch to create an agile, eCommerce order-fulfillment strategy for BuySeasons.  BuySeasons uses FastFetch’s technologies to speed fulfillment of on-line costume orders for Walmart, Amazon, Target, and JCPenny, among others.

The finalists for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award were recognized at CSCMP Edge 2018, an international supply chain conference and exposition held in Nashville, TN earlier this month.  The winner was Intel who was recognized for developing artificial intelligence and cognitive computing tools to help make sense of vast amounts of unstructured data as might emerge from modern supply chains.

Dr. Jack Peck, Co-Founder and President of FastFetch, placed things into perspective when he said, “We were pleased to be in the company of the outstanding contenders for the 2018 Supply Chain Innovation of the Year Award.  We are delighted that our order fulfillment solutions have been adopted by some of the top companies across the US, and I greatly appreciate the entire FastFetch team for creating the technologies that led to our recognition by CSCMP and Supply Chain Brain.”

John Moore, CEO of NEXT, the Greenville Chamber’s entrepreneur support organization, said, “we are delighted to see one of our member companies named as a finalist for such a prestigious award.  This recognition shows that small companies in Upstate South Carolina can make major contributions to the way that some of the nation’s largest companies serve their customers.”

FastFetch’s technologies are speeding eCommerce order fulfillment for several well-known companies across the US.  FastFetch has installed its eCommerce order fulfillment solutions for nationally known companies including GNC, Stanley Black & Decker, Saddle Creek Logistics, and Snap-On Tools.

The explosive growth of eCommerce during the last decade has drastically changed the way customer orders are placed and fulfilled.  The upsurge in on-line ordering together with the expectation of shorter and shorter delivery times has placed new demands upon distribution centers to handle products in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Most products are not shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer.  Rather, products from manufacturers are transported to distribution centers that typically maintain a wide assortment of products from multiple manufacturers in inventory.

When an order is placed, the required products must be located in the distribution center, the required quantities of each item must be retrieved or picked, and, finally, the picked items are packed into an appropriate container for shipment to the customer.  With the emergence of eCommerce, distribution centers began to experience a dramatic upsurge in the number of orders per day, but with fewer items per order.

While automated systems are capable of supporting some order picking activities, most order fulfillment strategies in use today rely upon substantial human labor.  According to Peck, “Decision makers are faced with a variety of options for improving the speed and accuracy of order fulfillment.  Key considerations are projected picking speed, capitalization costs, and operating costs.  An equally important consideration is the flexibility of the technology to be scaled up or down to accommodate changing demands.”

Prior to adopting FastFetch’s order fulfillment technology, BuySeasons was employing a modern voice-picking system relying upon 100 speech recognition headsets.  The performance of the voice-picking system was inadequate to provide the required accuracy and to keep pace with the growth in BuySeasons’ order volume.  Additionally, the time required to train new workers on the voice system further contributed to low productivity because BuySeasons relies heavily upon temporary workers during their busiest season.

BuySeasons choose to abandon their voice-picking strategy and replace their 100 speech recognition headsets with 40 batch-picking carts employing FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies.  FastFetch’s multimodal approach combines voice, barcode scanning, and light-directed technologies into a single system.  At BuySeasons, FastFetch’s technology more than tripled the speed of order picking and enabled a 64% increase in worker productivity across the distribution center.  As explained by Joe Plassmeyer, BuySeasons’ Director of Operations, “During the last peak season, with the FastFetch technology, we were able to ship 43% more orders with 12% less labor.”  Volume of orders this season has reached 60,000 orders per 14 hour day.

As noted by Peck, “The impressive performance increases result primarily from FastFetch’s multimodal picking technologies and from the use of artificial intelligence for assigning orders to carts in a manner that minimizes the travel within the distribution center required to fulfill orders.”

FastFetch is known for integrating highly effective artificial intelligence techniques into its products to improve the efficiency of order fulfillment processes.  As explained by Garry Harper, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at FastFetch, “A particular distribution center might have several distinct order fulfillment needs requiring different strategies and technologies.  The FastFetch technologies are sufficiently flexible to be used as building blocks for assembling distinctly different order-fulfillment methods using an appropriate mix of speech output, barcode scanning, and light-directed techniques.”

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