Wigwam Mills makes socks—thousands of them every day. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and styles, represented by nearly 2,000 stock keeping units. Wigwam Mills ships 350 to 500 parcels per day from their highly automated 90,000 square foot distribution center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. UPS is the primary carrier, transporting orders to major retailers including Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI, and Sports Authority as well as to several divisions of the military.
In 1998, Wigwam Mills undertook an initiative to ensure that all their IBM iSeries applications were Y2K compliant. This initiative gave Wigwam Mills a chance to replace multiple outdated PC-based transportation and warehouse management systems. The company had one PC system for picking and packing, another for logistics and warehouse location, and a third for order entry and inventory management. Maintaining multiple PC-based software systems had several disadvantages. Although the initial investment in their PC systems was low, maintenance costs were excessive. Expensive software consultants were required each time a change was needed.
To complicate matters, these systems from multiple vendors didn’t “speak” to each other. Keeping systems in sync was labor intensive and negatively impacted warehouse productivity. The shipping department needed to shut down an hour early each day to allow time for close-out.