"An entire skid could get displaced," says Clark. "Each skid is about 800 units. A whole truckload of them could go to the wrong location." On a bad day, "we could go down to 87% accuracy; that was unacceptable." As many as 300 inventory items out of every 6,000 were landing in the wrong store or truck at the wrong time.
The problem was a homegrown integration tool connecting the company's JD Edwards ERP system to DLx Warehouse 5.1, the company's RedPrairie warehouse management system. It was batch oriented, so real-time tracking was a huge challenge.
After four months of investigating enterprise application integration (EAI) tools for the firm, Clark chose webMethods Inc.'s 6.1 Integration Server and Broker. "Because we took the time to find the one that was right for us, we were able to do the implementation in less time," he says. "We did an EAI project in three months when it should have taken six to eight."
Other options included Oracle Fusion and Microsoft BizTalk. But the team believed webMethods was its best shot at implementing on time. Clark notes that at a price of $250,000, the webMethods product wasn't the cheapest, but it was the smart choice. These days, Clark is a high scorer: Today's inventory accuracy is 99.8%. Problem solved.
Stefanie McCann was formerly editor at large at CIO Decisions magazine. Write to her at email@example.com.