Bing Lee upgrades with Gamma Solutions

Electrical retailer Bing Lee selects Gamma Solutions,implements direct from DC to consumer technology for its new online and retail operations

Bing Lee upgrades with Gamma Solutions
Bing Lee upgrades with Gamma Solutions

By Anna Game-Lopata | March 6, 2012

Facing a number of logistics and technical challenges at its distribution centre (DC) and superstore, it was clear to Bing Lee a more efficient system was needed to improve stock accuracy
across its home deliveries direct to customers.

The electrical retailer had been servicing all 40 of its stores with next day direct home deliveries in the Sydney Metro area as well as coordinating stock transfers with a manual paper run sheets.

With stock being lost or misplaced, it was also apparent stock transfers needed improving, from warehouse to store, and store to store, from the time of an order to the time of signed proof of delivery on receipt by the customer.

Given Bing Lee had already experienced a successful implementation of warehouse management and wireless technology by Gamma Solutions
and its partner Paperless Warehousing in 2007 and 2008 at the company's then new DC and superstore, it seemed natural to approach them again for
a new solution to address track and trace delivery needs.

Bing Lee went with a system that includes a proprietary host, Intermec’s CN50 devices and Interdev Xmotion software, with Paperless Warehousing’s warehouse management system integrating with the new solution.

The new mobile delivery system replaces the manual paper run sheets that were used by warehouse staff and contract delivery and transfer drivers with Intermec CN50 handheld computers.

The devices communicate with existing RF access points to allow data to be sent via WiFi to devices within the warehouse and utilising the 3G network from the road – providing accurate information dynamically.

"Mobile computing using the Intermec CN50 allows us to dramatically reduce stock losses by accurately tracking and tracing stock movements within the supply chain, as well as digitising the proof of delivery process – ensuring greater accuracy," says Bing Lee Warehouse Manager, Ken Poole.

Bing Lee’s new stock delivery system works by allowing drivers to scan all items for their run. The application also warns the driver if an item hasn’t been scanned, or items not intended for their load have been incorrectly scanned.

If a driver is unable to load an item (due to damage or limited availability etc.), they can select an option from a dropdown list and a built-in safeguard requires warehouse supervisors to type in their unique authorisation PIN to confirm.

After loading, drivers on home delivery runs will enter a delivery window (two hour blocks selected from a dropdown list) against each delivery location. Once loading is complete, the driver then selects "Depart Warehouse" and all loading details are sent back to the DC’s system.

Drivers arrive each delivery location, scan off items, collect signature proof of deliveries and depart. Again, the DC’s system is dynamically updated as this occurs.

Drivers can also record that they were unable to deliver items. At the end of the day, when a driver selects "End of Day" the warehouse management system is informed of any undelivered items and they can rescheduled for delivery another day.

When loading store transfer items, the driver can select to deliver an item to its destination store or they can select to return it to the warehouse for delivery out to the correct store on a run the following day.

On return to the warehouse, the driver must unload all items on their truck (the application knows what is on-board due to non-deliveries and pickups entered into the system). If an item is not there for unloading, the driver must select an option and have a warehouse supervisor enter their authorisation PIN.

When scanning items to unload, the application communicates directly with the back end system (which also knows exactly what is on board the truck due to the dynamic updating throughout the day) and the driver is told which bay to unload the item into – based on the runs created in the system for the next day.

The greater visibility of drivers from the DC also means that Bing Lee staff can provide far greater customer service.

Real time information on problems encountered by drivers are available, as are estimated times of arrival through the dynamically updated vehicle movements. Staff members have found that they are more readily equipped to answer questions around failed or unsuccessful deliveries as the data logging is more comprehensive and up to date.

"While we invested in a mobile delivery system primarily to enable greater visibility of stock movements, much of the ROI comes in the form of customer service benefits, which are difficult to put a dollar figure on," Poole says.

"The system has provided large benefits by reducing the number of stock losses there are, as well as reducing labour costs associated with looking for proof of deliveries on manual run sheets."

In the future, Bing Lee plans to expand the level of return from the solution. The company has already achieved an increased profile from its state of the art technology implementation, winning the Supply Chain and Logistics Association of Australia’s (SCLAA) NSW Supply Chain Management Award.

"The data reporting is still being developed,"
Poole adds, "and there are many areas that remain untapped and we’re expecting the full benefits of the system to be realised as we begin to investigate how we can use all the information that is being gathered."

Founded in Fairfield, NSW, in 1957 by Bing Lee and his son Ken as a fruit and vegetable shop, Bing Lee has grown from doing electrical repairs on the side to becoming the largest family-owned in Australia, comprising of 40 retail outlets from Armidale to Belconnen.

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