High Tech

Data-driven design


UPS helps Vology turn a logistics challenge into a point of pride.

Power up! Warp speed! While the networking products offered by Vology Data Systems are high-tech, these phrases from Vology have more to do with the logistics behind its growing company than with the routers, switches and telecom it sells.

Case in point: You'd be hard-pressed to find another tech company website that features a video tour of its warehouse. But Vology rests its reputation on its ability to deliver certified pre-owned networking and telecommunications equipment within a day of an order. And its warehouse – where the equipment is received, tested, repackaged and shipped – is vital to fulfilling that promise.

"We're not a couple guys selling used stuff from the back of a garage," says Joy Perkins, director of operations at the Tampa-based company. "We need to show that our core values are centered on quality, continuous improvement and urgency."

UPS worked with Perkins to ensure that Vology's warehouse would be showcase-ready for both the video demonstrating its capabilities and any in-person tours with potential new customers. After years of double-digit growth, Vology appeared to be outgrowing its warehouse, which is no surprise considering the company was ranked by the Inc. 5000 for the past five years.

After a detailed assessment of the company's warehouse, UPS engineer Rick Longoria concluded that the problem wasn't its size, but the design. Virtually every piece of equipment had to travel almost the entire length of the facility, even if it had to be turned around in a day – which is the Vology promise. Employees were forced to walk long stretches repeatedly to complete simple tasks such as shelving.

A thorough assessment
Longoria spent about 14 more hours on-site at Vology observing every process from receiving to shelving, testing and quality control to fulfillment. "He was able to take a lot of data and run it through algorithms to demonstrate how efficiencies could be achieved," Perkins says. (Story continues at the "Continue reading" link below.)
Based on UPS's recommendations, for example, Vology decided to split the 20,000-square-foot warehouse into two parts: 6,000 square feet were devoted to operations, and the rest was dedicated to storage. "On a typical day, about half of what comes in goes back out the same day," Perkins says. "Now it never has to go into the storage area."

The operations area was designed to minimize the footpath between work areas such as the testing lab and quality control. And workspaces were redesigned to minimize excess movement and effort by employees. Among the efficiency measures: Workbenches were standardized, and mobile carts were deployed to transport equipment between workspaces.

To finish the project a complete aesthetic redesign was done, including new lighting, signage and flooring, to reflect the company's technological sophistication and dedication to quality.

Fully using all space and assets
Thanks to the redesign, Vology hasn't needed to build a new warehouse or hire new employees to accommodate its growth. "We estimate that we could now put through 50 to 70 percent more product with the same amount of people, thanks to the added efficiency," Perkins says.

With the redesign complete, UPS continues to help Vology with all its shipping and logistics needs. "The biggest benefit is that they are very responsive to our needs," Perkins says. "We worked with other carriers and they weren't there for us. But if there's something out of the ordinary, [UPS] can always help us solve the issue."

Three other solutions
Vology has benefited from UPS in additional ways:

1. Customs Brokerage
UPS handles customs clearance and brokerage for all of Vology's international shipments. "The process is very seamless for us," says Joy Perkins, director of operations for Vology. As the world's largest customs broker, UPS brokers more than 5.7 million packages annually in the U.S. alone.

2. Paperless paperwork
With UPS Paperless® Invoice you can reduce customs holds up to 56 percent. UPS Paperless Invoice helps Vology manage commercial invoice information electronically and reduce key-entry errors.

3. 24/7 visibility
Quantum View® Manage provides Vology with complete visibility into its global supply chain at any hour of the day. With Quantum View, Vology can proactively reach out to customers to notify them of unexpected delays, improving customer satisfaction.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2011 print edition of Compass.


Reader Comments

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Nathan Moorey
Our Customer Solutions Engineers do have the capability to oversee and assist with the implementation of the recommendations; however, most clients chose to execute this phase of the project to save on the additional expenses.
I have seen this before, where UPS makes recommendations. I have seen the same improvements. What is not said is we had to do the work. UPS provided the knowledge, but we still had to follow the blue prints. Maybe my boss didn't want to pay UPS past the info. Not sure if UPS will come and work our facility. Eitherway, I have seen the same.

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