Client: A North Pole Toy Manufacturer & Distributor
Solution Focus: Workshop & Distribution Operations
The North Pole team operates from a 1.2 million square foot workshop employing approximately 600,000 staff. Distribution is streamlined to a single sleigh operator, with deliveries only on December 24th, annually.
Asset Inventories don’t just benefit financial reports
While most references to asset inventories and audits surround financials and reporting, those activities can play a crucial role in operations. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – understanding your assets and their status can mitigate operations issues once work gets underway.
An assets mishap is what brought this customer to mobilePLUS.
The Previous Approach to Asset Audits
Typically, a full audit of their Distribution Operations undergoes a thorough, albeit manual approach. The audits are conducted 30 days prior to 12/24 Delivery (“D-Day”) and again in January after the holiday break.
While there had been talk of automation over the years, the staff, known internally as the “Elves,” have minimal turnover. The reliance on their experience and knowledge has always produced sufficient data.
Multiple dual-Elf audit teams divide the Distribution Operations division into key areas (Sleigh, Reindeer team, Route Coordination, Maintenance, etc.) Each area asset inventory is printed to Excel. The Audit team then divides responsibility with one Elf identifying and inspecting each listed (and found) asset, while the second Elf records the findings.
The results are then keyed into their ERP. The Audit data is used for final 12/24 operational planning and annual financial reporting.
A Need for Automation
While the Elves are a highly reliable team, all of the additional COVID safety protocols threw them off their game last year – and demonstrated a considerable weakness in their existing processes.
Social distancing required different Elf teams to be operating separately, delaying results and input into their ERP. Unfortunately, maintenance wasn’t alerted to an issue on the key distribution mechanism (“the Sleigh”), and a problem with the GPS mount wasn’t addressed before D-Day.
Midway through D-Day deliveries, the GPS became disconnected from the mount and fell onto the floor of the Sleigh during a sharp turn in the Rockies. While the operator, Santa, was able to reach and grab the device, he nearly clipped Pikes Peak in the process.
A 10-year-old Denver child caught the mishap on video while watching for the Sleigh. The video went viral as it made it look like Santa was flying after too much egg nog. While thankfully, no one was hurt – it was a PR nightmare.
A Mobile Solution
No one at the North Pole wants a repeat of that headache, so they decided to automate their Asset Audit processes by leveraging mobile devices, barcode and RFID tags, and mobilePLUS.
Given the location of their facilities and the continuing pandemic, bringing in outside staff for services can be a logistical (and costly) challenge. Our client sought a packaged and proven solution that could be deployed with their internal IT staff and any manufacturer services and support delivered remotely. They also sought a solution that would enable them to expand into RFID.
mobilePLUS was the ideal fit. Delivered via a cloud-based subscription, the North Pole team was able to stand up their mobilePLUS system within a matter of days. They leveraged their current barcoded asset tags, added RFID tags to mission-critical items, and purchased tablet mobile devices and barcode/RFID readers to get them started.
Asset audits that used to require two Elves per area, plus manual data entry and approximately 2-3 working days from start to finish, can now be completed within a few hours – including ERP data update. They can also inventory all assets – with either RFID or barcode tags – within the same mobilePLUS audit activity.
Our North Pole client is already benefiting from their more timely data as they plan for D-Day 2021. They are looking forward to expanding their mobilePLUS solution beyond their Workshop and Distribution operations and expanding their use of RFID in 2022.
Contact us to learn more about mobilePLUS and how we might be able to assist you in improving your asset data and operations. Until then, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season – and a productive and profitable 2022!