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Vendors Team to Optimize DCs

WhereNet and Elogex want to help companies to get the right truck to the right dock door at the right time.
Jan 02, 2003Jan. 3, 2003 - WhereNet, a provider of real-time location systems, and Elogex, which offers transportation optimization technology, have formed a strategic alliance to provide retailers and manufacturers with the ability to optimize inbound deliveries.

ES3's York facility
The companies have integrated WhereNet's WhereSoft Yard system with Elogex's OneNetwork transportation management system (TMS). The aim is to offer potential customers the ability to locate, track and manage hundreds of trailers in distribution centers and in transit from business partners. The combined offering provides access to real-time data through a single, secure Web site.

The partnership grew out of work the two companies did for ES3, a Keene, New Hampshire-based grocery distributor that wanted to be able to optimize arrivals at its new, state-of-the-art distribution center in York, Penn. The facility has 1,900 trailer slots on 250 acres and is designed to deliver consolidated orders from several manufacturers to customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions within 24 hours. ES3 needed a way to efficiently move trucks through its yard, so loads could be consolidated every 20 minutes.

Elogex's Web-based software handles the scheduling of trucks at specific doors based on information from ES3's in-house warehouse management system (WMS). Produce often needs to be stored in a specific area of the giant warehouse based on temperature and moisture requirements, so it's critical to get the right load to the right door. The WhereNet system uses active (battery-powered) RFID tags to locate specific trailers when they arrive or have been dropped in the yard and transmits data about when they need to be at a specific door, so the yard tractors can make sure they get there.

At the ES3 facility, Elogex stays in contact with trucks bringing deliveries to the DC. When the truck arrives, a temporary WhereTag is affixed to the trailer. It transmits a signal to WhereNet antennas placed around the yard. Elogex's TMS then indicates whether that trailer should be dropped in the yard or sent to a specific door based on information from the WMS

"Getting the truck to the right door is a tremendous challenge," says J Rollins, Elogex's senior VP of marketing and sales. "Otherwise you have forklifts running awry inside these warehouses."

The WhereNet RTLS system knows where every trailer is in the yard and what its status is. So if a trailer is dropped off, the Elogix system will provide the information about when it should be moved to a dock door. The yard tractor gets information from the WhereNet system on a ruggedized computer in the cab, so it can find the trailer quickly and move it.

"By interfacing WhereNet's yard management software and wireless real-time location applications with Elogex's logistics framework, we can optimize every move from the moment a truck rolls into our yard," says Geoff Davis, ES3's executive VP.

The integration work has already been done for ES3, which can view data from both WhereNet and Elogix on a secure Web site. Now, Elogex and WhereNet will jointly market the integrated system to clients that need to optimize traffic into large distribution centers.

"We can drive some efficiencies through this sort of integration and be able to go to market and talk about benefits that can be realized from the seamless flow of data from [the Elogex] system to ours," Matt Armanino, WhereNet's VP of business development. "It's a good fit for both companies."

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