Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (CGEMC), which ranks among the four lowest cost electric providers in Georgia, integrated SEDC’s Wireless Materials Management System (WMS), improving the speed and accuracy of their utility requisition in warehouse management with bar coding and automated tools. With the new process, the co-op slashed the time spent on manual counts from three days to completing inventory in less than three hours. Material management tasks that previously required three to four hours of labor now involve 30 minutes or less of service. Central Georgia EMC provides electricity to 14 counties in Georgia (Bibb, Butts, Clayton, Fayette, Henry, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Pike, Putnam and Spalding.

Challenges

CGEMC’s warehouse management faced several complications surrounding inaccurate inventory reports, stemming from issues like manual entries and re-entries at computer terminals and problems with data in real-time. Many U.S. businesses overlook inventory management, which leads to errors, lost opportunity and increased costs.

John Harkness, CGEMC’s senior vice president of distribution services, says warehouse staff’s traditional approach was to wander through the warehouse a couple times a week making reports of items to be replenished. This resulted in multiple orders each week, which was highly inefficient for the co-op and their vendors.

As part of warehouse management, personnel were required to hand deliver material counts to accounting to complete inventory. Warehouse employees counted everything while flipping back-and-forth through papers and writing information down. After items were manually inventoried, employees would have to go back and verify each item.

CGEMC’s material process and whole supply chain flow could not accurately manage their maximum/minimum numbers or increase their stock turnover ratio. The co-op needed a solution to enable workers to inquire and update their general accounting application, SEDC’s UPN, at the warehouse level and bring speed and accuracy to utility requisitions.

“We wanted to be able to handle all issues as they arise on site,” said Harkness. “We needed solutions in real time.”

Solution

Central Georgia EMC implemented SEDC’s Wireless Materials Management System in the spring of 2007. The comprehensive, integrated solution gives warehouse workers the power to record and update inventory at the warehouse level without having to write it down or sit at a PC workstation for hours, entering the information into the system.

This SEDC system capability is created specifically for UPN’s electric, water and gas accounting software. By using handheld devices to scan items by barcode, data automatically uploads into UPN.

CGEMC workers can see material real-time quantities and stock item descriptions clearly displayed on the handheld devices, giving them a better picture of what is actually in the warehouse and what they are using.

A warehouse worker can simultaneously complete the transaction in the computer and pick up the actual materials. The handheld device can be programmed to help personnel plan their day and their route. There is less room for error and staff can receive data in real time.

“Truly, design is key,” says Harkness. “Once you have accurate design and plant records, you can deliver the best service to your customers.”

See how Central Georgia EMC has revolutionized
their Supply Chain Management process.

Results

CGEMC’s requisitions are faster and more accurate with the bar coding and automated tools. It’s another factor allowing them to consistently sustain among the lowest electricity rates in the nation.

“We manage our members’ dollar to the best of our ability,” says Harkness. “That is an expectation that we have set and our members hold us to it.”

“It used to take three days to go through and do manual counts,” said Harkness. “With the new process, we can do inventory in less than three hours. What used to take us three to four hours takes us 30 minutes or less. We have expanded everything we do.”

Today, Central Georgia EMC requires only two warehouse personnel to serve over 55,000 customers’ electric needs. Even as the co-op has grown and increased their customer base, with the software, they’ve been able to maximize productivity and keep staff lean.

SEDC was integral in their support in setting up the workflow with handhelds. For Central Georgia EMC, the services helped tremendously in getting off the ground and increasing productivity.