Delivering the Poetry of Architecture – By the Truckload
I’d like you to close your eyes for a moment and take a mental tour of your home. Picture your favorite room. What makes it so special?
Perhaps you’re like John Ruskin — the 19th century English art critic and social thinker. In The Poetry of Architecture, he eloquently wrote about the view from a breakfast-room window:
“ . . .. where we meet the first light of the dewy day, the first breath of the morning air, the first glance of gentle eyes . . .”
Most of us aren’t capable of such poetic expression, but there’s no question that modern homeowners still value the delightful views, fresh air, and natural light that windows can bring into our daily lives.
With continued growth in new housing construction projected through 2020, the demand for essential architectural elements like windows and doors is growing. This summer, industry sources reported on a new study that showed residential window and door demand in the United States expected to rise 6% through 2020 reaching a US$25.6 billion market.
That’s great news for Idaho-based Woodgrain Millwork. Woodgrain Millwork, a family-owned business since 1954, makes thousands of windows every year, as well as countless doors, miles of trim molding, and dozens of other specialty wood products that add immeasurably to the comfort and character of our homes.
In fact, after more than 60 years in the business, the real challenge for the still–growing Woodgrain hasn’t been what to make, but how to get all their products to waiting builders, lumber yards, and home centers in a timely manner.
Integration and Centralized Management Help Deliver the Goods
Woodgrain Distribution has traditionally relied on regional distribution centers and a private fleet of about 50 trucks and 100 trailers to ship their products to 20 states throughout the United States. Woodgrain Distribution currently manages between 35 and 50 freight orders a day, and each truck makes an average of 10 to 15 stops.
According to Connie Moylan, CIO of Woodgrain Millwork, integration and centralized transportation management have been key to their shipping success in recent years.
Moylan explains that a couple of years ago, Woodgrain decided to consolidate a number of their disparate legacy systems and move instead to SAP solutions that included SAP ERP and the SAP Transportation Management application.
“Before the rollout, we managed transportation logistics locally from each of our seven distribution centers,” Moylan says. “But now we have a single centralized planning system that lets us serve our customers with improved fill rates and the level of on-time shipping they expect.”
This common management window gives Woodgrain insight into complex shipping needs that include not only multiple delivery scenarios but also incoming purchases from vendors, customer returns, stock transfers, and crossdocking.
As Moylan notes, the integrated system actually allows Woodgrain to start considering its transportation requirements as early as the sales process. “Company personnel can see both inventory and the availability of needed transportation resources even as sales orders are being entered in the system,” says Moylan. “Then when the trucks are ready to roll, we can use optimizer software to plan the individual loads for maximum efficiency.”
Poetry in Motion
Today, Woodgrain is experiencing yet another spurt of new growth that will once again redefine the company’s logistics landscape. The business is in the middle of implementing its millwork division which includes six additional manufacturing locations.
“As these new mills go online, we will be shipping to all 48 of the contiguous United States and Canada,” says Tyler Roorda, the transportation management business process owner at Woodgrain Millwork. “At that time, we will be using external carriers for about 95% of that shipping.”
It will definitely add a new dimension to Woodgrain’s current transportation situation. Roorda estimates there will be 420 external truckloads a month with the implementation of the mills.
But Woodgrain is clearly ready. Shipping has become a well-orchestrated process at the company.
“We can take customer orders up to 3 p. m. and are able to plan and load that same day for shipment the next morning,” says Moylan.
I don’t know what John Ruskin would say about Moylan’s comment, but I think there’s a kind of poetry in that level of coordination too.
Please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.
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Read more about Woodgrain Millwork’s success in this SAP Business Transformation Study