Utax Co., Ltd in Japan is a leading sub-material manufacturer for clothing, accessories and women's underwear. Utax customers include big-name domestic and international companies like Wacoal, Gunze, Triumph, Atsugi and Lecien. Utax has achieved major efficiencies by implementing an integrated LANSA based Wireless solution for the receipt of goods and shipments.
Mr. Atsushi Saito, Manager Shipping Division at Utax, says, "Our staff doesn't need to work overtime anymore. We can process shipments a lot faster, more accurate and with less staff. Since shipment details are updated in real-time they are and immediately available for inquiry by our customer service staff."
"Before the implementation of the new shipping solution, we had separate systems for the production & receipt of goods and for shipment. Stock handling procedures were complicated because the systems were not integrated," explains Mr. Tomio Nishitani, General Manager System Administration at Utax.
"Picking lists were printed, tagged together by shipping address and the goods picked. After packing for shipment we moved the goods out of our warehouse to a temporary location. Then, we manually entered details of the goods packed to issue shipping documents and we matched the documents and shipments one by one. Our people were walking around with shipping documents in their hands to look for the corresponding packs. Once the pack was located, they would attach the documents to it. We handle over 300 domestic and international shipments each day and the manual system was time consuming and troublesome."
Mr. Saito adds, "The tasks for international shipments were especially complicated. Firstly, we had to prepare a large number of export documents, including detailed invoices and packing lists, and provide copies to the shipping company."
"Secondly, loading and departure times for international freight are tightly scheduled and we had to work overtime to meet the schedule."
"Thirdly, our customers assign the original identification codes on packing lists and we would assign sequence numbers. We often had to wait for the customer's identification codes, and once available, our staff had to assign sequence numbers in a hurry. It was troublesome to keep track of manually assigned and often handwritten numbers."
"The procedures were cumbersome and mistakes unavoidable. Our business was rapidly growing and our export volume increasing. We had to improve our shipping procedures to keep up with this growth," continues Mr. Saito.
"We consulted IBM and they recommended a LANSA based solution and introduced us to Systems Engineering Laboratory Co., Ltd. (now LANSA Japan)."
"Based on suggestions from our sales division we decided to introduce barcodes and Wireless technology in our solution. After SEL demonstrated how easy it was to integrate these technologies with LANSA, the strategy was clear and a solution soon realized," said Mr. Nishitani.
"We developed the solution our selves and the project went smooth. LANSA was easy to learn and easy to integrate with our existing PC development skills," explains Mr. Manabu Horai, Chief System Administration.
"In phase one we introduced two Wireless handheld devices for our export business, and in a second phase we added five for the domestic business. The Wireless devices, called 'handies', are from Welcat and come with a software kit to which we just pass parameters."
"The entire system was delivered in five months by two developers. Considering that these developers were also assigned other tasks, I estimate that the actual development time totaled to less than five man months."
LANSA was easy to learn and easy to integrate
"Now our shipping procedures are simple and efficient," explains Mr. Saito. "Every morning we issue the picking lists for the day. We pick the goods and scan their details with the handheld device, just before packing them for the customer. Order numbers and shipping data are updated automatically and in real-time on our iSeries. When we finish packing, all we have to do is enter the shipping date and push the print button to produce packing lists and shipping and export documents."
"Now one person can handle the entire procedure from start to end, and this makes it easier to assign responsibility for each shipment. Before we implemented the system, only the people in charge could issue slips of shipment for the transportation company, but now anyone can do that by simply pushing a button."
"Before we implemented the solution, the goods were usually not ready for collection by the transportation companies till 7.00 p.m. in the evening. Then, after the goods were collected we had to manually enter the related data into our system, so our staff was always working overtime. Nowadays we can finish our work at the regular closing time of 5.15 p.m."
"Moreover, the number of staff involved has been reduced from ten to eight."
"The tasks have become easier and more standardized as well. The amount of time needed by an experienced or inexperienced staff member is about the same. This makes it easier to schedule work assignments."
"Because shipping data is updated in real-time at the moment of scanning, our sales and service department has up-to-date information at their fingertips," continues Mr. Saito. "Because the shipment details are immediately available in the system, customer representatives can directly contact the shipping companies to trace the status of a shipment. Before they would have to contact our shipping department first to find out the relevant information."
We process shipments faster, more accurate and with less staff
"The LANSA and Wireless solution has proven itself and our objectives of cost reduction and quick response have been achieved," says Mr. Nishitani. "We are now considering similar systems in other areas as well."
"One area is inventory location management. Because we are dealing with hundreds of thousands of items, it is difficult to pre-assign warehouse shelves for certain products. We roughly fix shelves for customers, but when the assigned shelves are full, we move goods to other vacant shelves without any checking. We often forget what is where."
"A better way is to take a vacant shelf and register the shelf number with the Wireless handy," explains Mr. Ryuta Yano, Chief Shipping Division. "That way picking lists can contain accurate shelf numbers and anyone can query the location of goods. No one has to be trained to remember all of the addresses."
"Other areas where we plan to implement Wireless technology include prospected stock and stock-on-hand. We expect to manage our inventory more accurately by introducing Wireless technology in all areas of stock handling," concludes Mr. Nishitani.
Company and System Information
- Utax Co., Ltd is a leading sub-material manufacturer for clothing, accessories and women's underwear. Its products include wires, bias tapes, hook-eye-tapes, snap tapes, metal adjuster and shoulder pads.
- Utax has factories in Nishiwaki and Kasai City and a sales office in Tokyo. Overseas factories are located in Hong-Kong and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Overseas sales offices are located offices in Hong-Kong, Paris, Bangkok and Taipei.
- Utax was established in 1967 and has a capital of 70 million-yen. The company has 205 employees in Japan, about 200 overseas.
- Utax uses an iSeries model 620.
- For more information about Utax visit: www.utax.co.jp
- For more information about the Welcat Handheld devices visit www.welcat.co.jp/english
- The solution was recommended by LANSA Business partner Systems Engineering Laboratory Co., Ltd. (SEL).