How Canon Improves Their Service through Their Warehouse Management System with Canon's Dan Schultz

by Vector | Dec 14, 2021 10:00:00 AM

“I'll focus on a recent initiative that's been a long time in planning and execution. That initiative is the establishment implementation of a standard Canon warehouse management system across our entire distribution network. You can imagine the challenge of implementing a standard system across five different 3PLs and Canon facilities.

We recently completed implementation at all 12 DCs, and we continue to refine the system to meet our business needs.

Previously, we worked with a number of different warehouse management systems, from best-in-class to unique homemade solutions in some locations. We went out and selected a middle-market WMS software from a WMS provider. That was very scalable. We could scale it from 10-man operations to 100 people operations in our larger DCs.”
-Dan Schultz, Senior Director, Canon USA

Full Transcript

Francis Adanza:

Welcome to the Down to Freight Podcast, where we sit down with transportation, logistics, and supply chain subject matter experts to discuss digital transformation projects. I'm the host of the show, Francis Adanza, and it's a pleasure to welcome Dan Schultz, senior director of logistics for Canon. Dan, it's great to have you here today.

 

Dan Schultz:

Thank you, nice to be here.

 

Francis Adanza:

To kick things off, can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself, your company and what you're responsible for at Canon?

 

Dan Schultz:

Okay, a little bit about myself first. I'm a born and raised New Yorker. I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. I served seven years active duty as a United States army field artillery officer, then transitioned into a business career in logistics. I have held various positions of increasing responsibility, from distribution center manager, to corporate transportation manager, to director of logistics operations, to my current position.

 

My company is Canon USA. Canon USA is a leading provider of consumer, business to business and industrial digital imaging solutions to the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean markets. My current role at Canon USA is senior director of logistics, where I have leadership responsibility for our network of 12 distribution centers across the US. I also have responsibility for our US domestic transportation management programs, supply chain systems, and logistics budgeting activities at Canada and USA.

 

Francis Adanza:

Got it. Thank you for that overview. You touched a little bit about on the context of your supply chain in regards to 12 distribution centers. Can you elaborate a little bit more? Are you managing the dedicated fleets? Is it 3PL, a mix? Maybe just some context so people can understand the scale and complexity of your operation.

 

Dan Schultz:

Okay. So basically, at Canon USA, we manage four different distinct supply chains. As I mentioned, the description of Canon consumer, business to business, industrial imaging and Latin America markets all represent different supply chains for us. The way our supply chain works, we're a very product-driven company and our product management teams forecast inventory needs based on sales demand to our global headquarters in Japan, then Canon manufacturing facilities across the world, mostly in Japan and Asia, fulfill our purchase orders.

 

From a logistics perspective, we manage and monitor the supply chain from the manufacturing plant to the port of origin, through to customs clearance at the US port of entry. From the port of entry, we manage delivery to our distribution centers, we stock in, we manage outbound shipments for on-time delivery to our trading partners. In terms of our network, I mentioned 12 DCs. Those 12 DCs are operated by five different third-party logistics providers, as well as four locations that are Canon owned and operated facilities. I happen to be sitting in our Jamesburg, New Jersey DC. That is a Canon owned and operated facility with Canon staff members.

 

Francis Adanza:

Got it. Thank you, that's super helpful. As you know, we're here to talk about technology. Is there current initiative or a recent initiative that you've finished that you'd like to share?

 

Dan Schultz:

I think I'll focus on a recent initiative. That's been a long time in planning and execution. That initiative is, and continues to be, establishment implementation of a standard Canon warehouse management system across our entire distribution network. You can imagine the challenge of implementing a standard system across five different 3PLs, as well as Canon facilities. We recently completed implementation at all 12 DCS, and we continue to refine the system to meet our business needs.

 

Francis Adanza:

Got it. It sounds like a pretty complex project. Was this built in-house or using off the shelf commercial software, that's highly customized?

 

Dan Schultz:

So previously, we worked with a number of different warehouse management systems from best in class to, I guess, unique homemade solutions in some locations. We went out and selected a middle market WMS software from a WMS provider, that was very scalable and we could scale it from 10 man operations to 100 people operations in our larger DCs.

 

Francis Adanza:

Got it. Now that you've rolled out in your operational compared to how things used to be and how they are now, how would you measure the before and after, the impact on the business?

 

Dan Schultz:

Before, it was difficult to standardize our methods and processes for servicing our customers, our trading partners. Major retailers do not want to receive a different level of service from different distribution centers in different areas of the country. Implementing standardized WMS solved that. In the process, our staff became very proficient in the implementation and configuration of the WMS, and that has resulted in the benefit that we have excellent visibility to everything going on in our distribution centers and the standards of performance and the service we provide to our trading partners is also standardized.

 

Francis Adanza:

That's awesome. So, for those listeners out there that are thinking about rolling out a WMS or upgrading and underperforming system, what advice would you give to those that are thinking on embarking on a similar project?

 

Dan Schultz:

My number one point of advice would be to never lose focus on what the goal of your project is, and don't let the software and the implementation become the project. Focus on what your goal to achieve is. Our goal was to have standardized systems across all of our network. I would also recommend to stay on top of the technology to ensure a company-selected software tool and potential solution that meets their business needs.

 

Francis Adanza:

Good advice. So, you mentioned earlier about evolving and continuous improvement. What's next on the horizon for this project or any other technology initiatives that you're planning for?

 

Dan Schultz:

You requested a recent project and our WMS implementation's been going on for a few years now and we've completed the implementation, but refinement is never over. We continue to refine, we're moving our WMS servers to cloud-based systems, and that requires some hardware upgrades. In today's supply chain environment with semiconductor shortages, we are experiencing hardware procurement challenges, especially RF scanners. So, that's always ongoing. A future initiative of ours is to establish better outbound shipment visibility. We have visibility throughout our supply chain internal to our network, but we plan to pursue better visibility of our shipments to trading partners and customers.

 

Francis Adanza:

Awesome. Well, seems like the job is never done, but thank you, Dan, definitely appreciate your lessons learned from this WMS implementation. I think our listeners will appreciate the words of wisdom.

 

Dan Schultz:

Thank you. I appreciated sharing our experiences with you.

 

Francis Adanza:

All right, have a good one. Thanks.

 

Dan Schultz:

You're welcome. Have a good one.

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