IoT Case Study: Gexpro Services saves customer $200k/yr by optimizing inventory with eTurns Trackstock SensorBins
With its previous supplier, a large Gexpro Services customer in Colorado had no visibility into the inventory replenishment process and its control was limited.
“Everything got out of control because there was no oversight,” said Chad Winterland, purchasing manager for the customer. “There was no reporting. We weren’t able to take snapshots of where we were at any given moment. In the end, we had a lot of excess material.”
Gexpro Services approached the customer with a solution: eTurns TrackStock SensorBins™ Smart Replenishment technology, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution that uses weight sensors to continuously monitors on-hand inventory quantities at the point-of-use in the customer’s Denver manufacturing facility.
The sensor-based replenishment system measures the weight of the parts – in this case, fasteners – at user-defined intervals, and SensorBins convert that weight to quantity. When the on-hand quantity falls below the minimum, a replenishment order up to the maximum is sent through the eTurns cloud-based application to Gexpro Services’ ERP system. Gexpro Services then picks, transports and restocks the parts.
The system allows Gexpro Services and its customer to monitor inventory levels at any time of day from any browser with no human involvement, providing much-needed visibility, transparency and control. With eTurns, Gexpro Services has reduced the time it needs to monitor and replenish inventory, and the manufacturer can be confident it has the necessary inventory for production.
eTurns' leading-edge TrackStock SensorBins immediately delivered measurable results:
- No downtime: “The eTurns-Gexpro Services solution has effectively eliminated inventory stockout-related downtime,” Winterland said. The customer had about 20 system-wide downtime messages per week before the implementation.
- $200,000/yr. in administrative savings, including no purchase orders: The customer has saved at least $200,000 annually in administrative costs due to the elimination of purchase orders and reduction in order handling. This is because eTurns SensorBins trigger orders automatically when inventory levels fall to the minimum.
- Reduced on-hand inventory: Since partnering with Gexpro Services and eTurns, the customer has experienced an average annualized piece-part savings of 10% each time it adds parts to the program.
- Redeployed labor: Because it has outsourced the management of the inventory to Gexpro Services, the customer no longer needs a buyer dedicated to that inventory, saving it additional time and money.
Gexpro Services has also reaped benefits from deploying eTurns TrackStock SensorBins to manage inventory for its customer. Without the eTurns software, Gexpro Services would have to travel to the site, do a visual check on inventory levels, decide what’s needed, write it down, return to their warehouse, gather the parts, and return to the customer’s facility to replenish.
With eTurns, the time needed to manage the inventory has been cut in half thanks to the efficiencies gained from remote monitoring with sensors. eTurns tracks real-time usage in the customer’s remote locations, makes the data accessible online, and triggers email alerts when Gexpro Services needs to fill the bins. This allows Gexpro Services to ensure that its customer has what it needs, when it needs it, making Gexpro Services an invaluable partner for the manufacturer.
The Power of Analytics
The real-time visibility gained with eTurns is powerful. Now Gexpro Services’ customer can easily track whether a part is being overused or not used at all. They can determine whether there’s a spike in usage, and investigate its cause.
Winterland tracks usage closely using eTurns’s reporting functionality.
“With these reports, I know exactly what I have in inventory in real-time, what is coming and when, and I can easily match it with the invoice,” he said.
With eTurns, Gexpro Services and its customer can also adjust the levels of new material introduced into the system.
“Right away it started saving money for us because we could right-size the inventory because of the analytics,” Winterland said. That’s especially helpful in the rapidly growing solar industry, in which forecasting can be challenging.
The solution gives the customer insight about what it is spending on hardware, and the manufacturer can quickly identify whether it is on track to meet its original expected annual usage.
“We appreciate that eTurns and Gexpro Services brought us this innovative IoT replenishment solution, TrackStock SensorBins™, that includes sensors and cloud software with real-time visibility and reporting,” Winterland said. “They have really helped us streamline our inventory management."