THE JUST-IN-TIME JOURNEY
In our last editions of the just-in-time-journey, you got a behind-the-scenes look at our sales and inventory departments. Now, to wrap up, we have one final stop to make – distribution. This is the department where all of your orders come together to create one complete shipment that will arrive at your door, as promised, the next day.
Our distribution department has about 45 associates, which is not many compared to the approximately 4,000 packages we ship out on any given day. And that number can vary greatly depending on the season – around Mother’s Day it jumps to about 5,500 packages per day and at holiday time it can climb to a staggering 8,000 packages shipped per day. But after personally helping in this area during the 2015 holiday season, which can see about 100 cross company volunteers pass through to help get your packages out on time, I can attest to the smooth organization that it demonstrates. And that, along with some pretty talented folks, is what gets the job done.
Because Stuller allows customers to place orders until 5 p.m. central time and still receive them the next day (on any item in-stock), distribution doesn’t start revving up until late afternoon.
Once our inventory department finishes pulling the pieces, they go on to our conveyor tilt tray system. Here an associate places each piece on the belt – bar code up. The piece passes under a bar code reader, identifying which of the 30 shipping stations that item will stop at.
Then, once at a shipping station, the pieces are scanned again so the associate can determine which bin number, at that station, the order belongs in. When the last line item in a given order is scanned, the computer indicates that that order is complete and ready to be invoiced. The associate checks all the items in the bin one final time to make sure they match with the computer. Once confirmed, the associate packages all items into one box (if possible), along with a handful of a Stuller staple – Dum Dums®.
Speaking of Dum Dums®, here’s an interesting fact – Stuller orders 1,500 cases of those suckers a year. And we enjoy all of the notes customers send requesting different and favorite flavors. And, if you’re a regular, you may have noticed that depending on the season – Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and the Holidays – we change up the lagniappe (a little something extra). The reason for this? Well, we just like to think of it as traditional southern hospitality. It’s the way our mommas raised us.
Your just-in-time package is then handed to either a FedEx or UPS team member, which we have stationed at our facility. One UPS associate, Renee Hulin, has spent most of her career working for UPS inside of Stuller.
“She understands the logistics,” says Dustin Trahan, executive director of logistics operations. “She is a big team player. She wants to see everyone succeed even if it means helping her carrier competitor get packages out the door for Stuller.” And since 1982, Stuller has been one of the largest UPS and FedEx shippers in the southeast, shipping to 170 different countries. In fact, Stuller had a big hand in bringing those carriers to Acadiana, but that’s a story for another day.
Enjoyed the journey? Tell us a story of how Stuller has come through for you in the comments section below.