Case Study 6: Changing the order

Having steadily grown over the past 8 years and with a reputation for the ability to respond quickly to customer demand and to get it shipped out the same day, this Specialist cable supplier was in a position where it has become more difficult to handle the quantity and prioritisation of orders being processed.

As in many companies the way tasks are carried out evolve over a period of time and invariably end up being a less than ideal process with 'extra bits' being added on.

The existing core business processes needed to be evaluated to identify where improvement activity should be focussed. Using this preliminary work the team were able to discuss the opportunities with the company directors resulting in two distinct parts of the process being targeted for improvement.

Sales order processing
Picking and packing process


Changes were made to the Sales order process which removed the need for inspection checks and enabled the development of a pull system from the fax machine.

Orders were then pulled in sequence when the next sales manager was available rather than queuing up on desks and in trays.

The Sales team were given additional training to expand their areas of responsibility and enable entry of sales orders directly onto the Sage system rather than writing them out for the Operations office to input.

The team also developed two new paper based databases.

The Customer Special Requirements database enables the specific customer preferences to be taken from individuals memories and presented in a visual way for the benefit of all.

A similar paper based system was used for the Preferred Supplier listing thereby reducing the amount of searching through vendors records for prices.

In the warehouse, fast moving stock was relocated from the rear of the warehouse to the front to reduce walking time and ease access for picking.

The team also created an enhanced goods inward area and new packing and dispatch area.

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The success of the improvement activity has provided a blueprint for other areas of the business.

The team are now working on a plan to review all the processes with a view to gaining ISO 9001 accreditation.

This would establish optimal working practices and help to further improve customer satisfaction levels, internal efficiency and another step closer to becoming a major player in cable distribution.

Customer Profile

Specialised cable supplies

Main focus of activity
Process Improvement (Sales orders)

Reduction in Operator movement from 99km/yr to 5.1km/yr (95%)
Response timed reduced from 240mins to 20mins (91%)




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