Thunderworks Case Study

Previously using Excel, Thunderworks embarked on a project to implement NetSuite to provide needed functionality for accounting and operations. “NetSuite had everything we were looking for, including the functionality to log expiration dates,” said James Stanley, Operations Director. Using a Cloud-based ERP was just the first step Thunderworks took towards inventory control - they also needed a WMS to achieve visibility and accuracy.

Barking up the Wrong Tree 

Needing to eliminate reliance on individual knowledge and errors associated with manual processes, Thunderworks looked to implement a WMS to complement NetSuite as their next step. “We needed the ability to scan different kinds of barcodes. The solution provider we initially chose could not provide this necessary functionality, despite their claims. The solution was not as detailed as we needed it to be,” said James. With poor communication and an inability to deliver, the initial WMS solution never went live at Thunderworks. 

Adopting RF-SMART

Based on recommendation from NetSuite, Thunderworks approached RF-SMART to determine if their solution could meet the needs at Thunderworks. “RF-SMART has the best demo because we were able to see the solution in action on the handheld device,” said James. James knew RF-SMART would be able to deliver the functionality Thunderworks was seeking. While superior service was far-fetched with their first solution, it was not with RF-SMART. The RF-SMART team took the time to understand the needs and goals of Thunderworks, a level of service the previous provider did not offer. 

“RF-SMART is everything we need and want,” said James. Thunderworks uses RF-SMART to control all inventory movement in their warehouse - including receiving, putaway, picking, shipping, and inventory counts. RF-SMART allows Thunderworks to track lot numbers and expiration dates via serial numbers. “During receipt, my employees can log each lot via scanning. This makes it easy for us to adhere to First In, First Out,” said James. 

Most importantly, RF-SMART gives Thunderworks the capability to scan multiple types of barcodes. Because of customer requirements, Thunderworks needed the ability to scan the master case and inner cases to pull total quantities - instead of scanning each item to pull quantities. “RF-SMART honors unique UPCs, and that is making us more efficient and accurate,” said James.  

Harnessing Success

“RF-SMART Pick Manager has helped us accomplish a major goal in terms of efficiency,” said James. By curtailing the use of manual processes to sort paper pick slips in order of importance, James manages all picking tasks via RF-SMART Pick Manager quickly and easily. RF-SMART Pick Manager also provides a simple way to create picking plans. “Pick Manager lets me batch orders strategically, which has cut down on picking time by 75% on orders with eaches,” said James. “Pick Manager allows me to quickly assign picking tasks and keeps my employees efficient and accurate. It’s a lot easier than our previous way.” 

“Prior to RF-SMART, we did not have a lot of inventory control,” said James. Implementing bins was the first step towards gaining control. “Using bins, we know exactly where each item is in our warehouse - no more institutional knowledge - and this has resulted in more efficient picking. RF-SMART directs employees to the right location for each pick.” 

In addition to accuracy gains, Thunderworks has seen efficiency gains. Previously needing two days to complete monthly cycle counts, Thunderworks’ employees are now counting inventory daily or weekly, as time allows. “With RF-SMART cycle counting, we are keeping our inventory more efficient throughout the year, which benefits all aspects of our business including inventory planning and warehouse space,” said James. 

The user-friendly RF-SMART interface is also easier than any of their previous methods. “The color-coding is a great help to my employees,” said James. Using RF-SMART, employees can quickly be directed to their tasks and can know at a glance the status of items. Administration of RF-SMART is also easy for James as the tools are straight-forward.

Agility in Shipping

The Thunderworks team has ultimately seen end-to-end efficiency through the implementation of RF-SMART Shipping. Their busy season meant they were shipping thousands of packages a day. With their previous solution, that meant all-hands-on-deck in the warehouse. “During our peak last year, we had nine people shipping on our previous solution. Pretty much that's all we were doing,” said James, “This year we did a similar volume, and it was just a normal day with our two shippers. They were able to take breaks and went home on time.”  

Two big features of RF-SMART Shipping stand out to James and his team: The ability to batch ship and the Custom Rules Engine. While they have many different SKUs in the Thunderworks warehouse, their bestsellers are always flying off the shelves. For orders that are single line items, James sets a plan to run in Pick Manager to bulk pick the items. Previously, they would need to individually print all bulk orders. Now with the press of a button, all the labels and sales orders automatically print all at once, making it easy for shippers to get orders out faster. “Once we pick everything into one tote, we batch print the labels. Now we just match the name of the packing slip with the name of the shipping label. It takes our shipping to the next level,” said James. 

With the RF-SMART Shipping Custom Rules Engine, Thundershirt leverages a few automated rules that eliminate the need for the shippers to make manual decisions. One rule is that anything shipping in Canada automatically ships with a certain carrier. Another rule chooses the correct carrier based on the weight of the shipment. “We’ve created a rule that for anything over a pound. It automatically tells the shipper which box size and carrier to use,” said James. Previously, shippers had to rely on their knowledge of Thunderwork’s shipping preferences. Now, these decisions are completely automated. 

James says his team has easily adopted RF-SMART Shipping and is seeing great boosts in efficiency, especially by using scanner commands to speed up the process. The Thunderworks team simply scans to ship the order – no keyboard, mouse, or decision making necessary. “We are easily 40% faster than we were on our previous solution,” said James, “We are very happy with the upgrade to RF-SMART Shipping. RF-SMART provided a great deal of knowledge of the software and made the installation simple and easy. RF-SMART is a great company, and we appreciate the opportunity to do business with them.  It has made my life – and my employees' lives - much easier.” 

Best-in-Show Solution

“The RF-SMART teams went over and above to provide what we needed during implementation. They made the go-live really easy,” said James. Training users has also been easy because RF-SMART is designed to be simple. “Most employees are trained in about 30 minutes; it takes longer to familiarize them with our products,” said James. When they do have questions, James and his team rely on the customer-centric tools RF-SMART provides. “The RF-SMART Knowledge Base is great because it has articles that tell me exactly what to do,” said James.  

What does the future hold for this growing business? As they continue to expand, they will add more RF-SMART features and functionality. “I can attribute our growth to happier customers due to less mispicks, which is thanks to RF-SMART," said James. “We are very satisfied with RF-SMART and highly recommend it.” 

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“I can attribute our growth to happier customers due to less mispicks, which is thanks to RF-SMART. We are very satisfied with RF-SMART and highly recommend it.”

Read how Thunderworks replaced a failed WMS with RF-SMART for accurate inventory and improved picking processes.

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Download the Thunderworks Case Study

Download the Thunderworks Case Study