A man in a warehouse

Shipcom case study

Shipcom implements automated mobile computing system to streamline warehouse management

Inconsistencies in manual data entry

Houston Independent School District (HISD) faced challenges such as damaged barcode labels and end-of-life hardware while managing its warehouse stores resulting in the use of error prone manual data entry.

Implementing automated and mobile computing system

Shipcom partnered with HISD by implementing improved automation for warehouse and transportation staff through the use of mobile computing.

Increasing productivity and efficiency through the use of automated system

Shipcom’s robust technology platform, Catamaran® 14NG (Next Generation), helped HISD increase productivity of order selectors, increase efficiency for quality control, reduced wastage and expired items, and reduced pick errors.

Founded in 1997, Shipcom has over 20 years of experience delivering automated workflow solutions to the public sector and private industry. Shipcom’s proven, commercial off the shelf (COTS) platform Catamaran™ is a versatile and configurable asset tracking and inventory management platform that enables its clients to improve the efficiency, visibility, and precision of their supply chain operations. Shipcom’s solutions are focused on internet of things (IoT), automatic identification and data collection (AIDC), radio-frequency identification (RFID), and enterprise mobility markets in the areas of asset tracking, warehousing, transportation, IT asset management (ITAM), IT software management (ITSM), logistics execution (LES), and manufacturing execution.

Shipcom Wireless has been a Microsoft Gold partner for several years. It has built its primary solutions using .NET Framework 4.0 and SQL Server on the backend and Windows OS on PC and mobile devices. Building mobile capabilities enables users to extend traditional supply chain management solutions to deliver fully integrated enterprise scale digital solutions, delivering reliable unification and visibility of supply chain, critical business processes, and ERP solutions.

Inconsistencies in manual data entry

Houston Independent School District (HISD), a Shipcom customer, stores raw materials, finished goods from vendors, and production goods in their warehouse—which delivers goods for more than 265,000 meals to 284 schools around Houston. HISD uses SAP warehouse management (WM) to natively manage its Nutrition Services warehouse. Challenges such as damaged barcode labels and end-of-life hardware had resulted in the use of manual data entry, which was often prone to errors. For example, damaged labels can lead to pick errors which cause incorrect materials to be selected and delivered to schools.

"Catamaran NextGen platform, using IoT technology and mobile computing, leverages Microsoft Power BI to create interactive dashboards and advanced analytics. These rich visual tools, on top of our robust workflow engine, help our clients monitor critical KPIs in real-time and provide actionable insight to make strategic decisions.”

— Mohammad Sachee, Supply Chain Project Manager, Shipcom Wireless

Implementing an automated and mobile computing system

Shipcom partnered with HISD to implement improved automation for warehouse and transportation staff through the use of mobile computing. Specifically, Shipcom implemented a robust technology platform, Catamaran® 14NG (Next Generation), that enabled HISD to rapidly deploy mobility solutions that seamlessly integrated with HISD’s corporate system (SAP).

Catamaran supports various processes ranging from goods receipt and putaway to replenishment and order fulfillment at the warehouse. Now, dozens of concurrent users can use the application in a variety of form factors such as handheld, desktop, and Vehicle Mounted Units (VMUs).

These solutions are built on .NET Framework 4.0 using TFS and Microsoft SQL Server at the backend and Windows server, .NET application and Windows 10 on PCs and tablets. Reports and dashboards are rendered using Microsoft Power BI Report Server.

Shipcom has provided HISD a warehouse management solution for almost a decade. The recent upgrade modernized the platform, digitalized the processes, added new features, and provided analytics and business intelligence. With these updates, Catamaran now provides HISD maximum flexibility–a fully capable system of record and a nimble mobility solution that delivers productivity to the frontline. It provides transparency, traceability, efficiency, and reduced wastage through various best practices and data analytics (dashboards).

Increasing productivity and efficiency with an automated system

The latest solution was deployed in Q4 2018 and has provided HISD with a host of benefits. HISD increased productivity of the order selectors, increased efficiency for quality control, reduced wastage and expired items, and reduced pick errors.

With the use of Catamaran at the edge, all warehouse transactions are completed in real-time in a fully paperless and seamless process on the warehouse floor. Reports and dashboards included in Catamaran analyze past trends and daily operational metrics, enabling customers to determine process efficacy and continuously improve future warehouse operations.

“Shipcom’s Expiration Dashboard helps me to manage the inventory in way that was not possible before… The advantage of having the dashboard is that it allows the operation to be proactive when dealing with aging material… it gives the operation the tool and confidence of inventory accuracy.”

— Conrad Davis, Sr. Warehouse Manager, Nutrition Services, HISD

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