Vanguard Logistics adopts wireless warehouses in the US

Vanguard Logistics, a neutral warehouse operator in the US and part of the NACA Logistics Group, a global NVOCC giant, announces the integration of bar coding and wireless handheld scanners into its supply chain management. The technology will improve Vanguards’ service as a whole and allow for increased security and tracking of cargo.

What exactly is a neutral warehouse doing investing heavily in wireless technology and bar coding?

“What you have to understand is that even though we are a neutral warehouse, our logistics customers rely on us to provide visibility for the cargo they entrust to us,” explained Jeff Lee, the US COO for the parent company. “Take for example the forwarder who entrusts their cargo to us. The chances are that this forwarder has made commitments to their customer for tracking and tracing and inventory management. Effectively, therefore we have to deliver a very high level of information visibility to them as their service level depends on our performance. We take this commitment very seriously. The customers who have walked through our Chicago facility are tremendously impressed at this functionality.”

The company considers itself to be in a logistics “sweet spot” - between the shipper/forwarder on the one hand and the steamship carrier on the other. “The chain is only as strong as the weakest link,” said Biju Kewalram, the company CIO, “and our intention is to eventually eliminate data entry as a source of errors. Consequently, our solution calls for bar coding when the freight enters our warehouses and from then on there is no human re-entering the warehouse related data while the freight is in our possession.”

Implementing a wireless solution is much broader than plugging into the warehouse management system, according to Michael Gomez, senior system and network engineer. Integration of wireless handhelds into NACA Logistics’ operations amplifies the level of control NACA has over cargo management.

The handheld scanners are expected to streamline the freight receiving and handling processes by increasing the speed that information is sent from the time cargo is received. Information can be entered into the operations system directly from the handheld to speed the receiving and confirmation process, which ensures cargo makes the cut off. On top of the ability to offer real-time information, the wireless system will generate immediate email or fax notification if an error is detected.

The wireless handheld scanners will be implemented into all USA Vanguard Container Freight Stations (CFS). The process will go live after the Miami and Atlanta CFSs are outfitted with the wireless handheld scanners.

“We have trailed the use of our handheld scanning system in our 200,000 square foot Chicago facility over the last year and are very excited about rolling them out to the rest of our facilities,” said Chief Operations Officer for NACA USA, Jeff Lee.

Marleny Alvarado was involved in the pilot program at Chicago. Ms. Alvarado is one of many warehouse employees that will benefit from the wireless handheld scanners.

All cargo will be bar coded according to the international standard, “Code 128.” Freight will be scanned during each step of the loading process to ensure it is loaded correctly. This will also make any adjustments easier to incorporate into the schedule.

“The ultimate goal is to be able to provide information to customers in real-time about the status of their shipment. This is a big step towards achieving this,” said Mr. Lee.

Vanguard is implementing Symbol MC 9060 Long-Range Color Handhelds with a Cisco Infrastructure to ensure maximum range and security. The Symbol MC 9060 model allows short or long range scanning. Most importantly, the model is durable enough to withstand a warehouse environment so equipment performance will remain reliable.

“The combination of Symbol Wi-Fi Handheld Scanners together with Cisco Wi-Fi Access points provided us with a technology and infras