Medifast Refines its Warehouse Operations

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Medifast Refines its Warehouse Operations

By Alarice Rajagopal and Jamie Grill-Goodman - 10/12/2015
Founded in 1980, Medifast is a manufacturer and distributor of healthy living and weight management products. With 2013 revenues of $356.9 million, the company sells its products and programs via four unique distribution channels: the Web and national call centers; the company’s Take Shape For Life personal health coach division; Medifast Weight Control Centers; and a national network of physicians.

In addition to its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Owings Mills, Md., Medifast also has distribution centers in Ridgely, Md. and Coppell, Texas. As Medifast started to experience greater volume in each of its distribution centers, it was important to scale the company’s ERP system to accommodate its growing business.

“We realized that if our customer orders grew to the point of needing a multiple-shift operation, we would need to develop a strategy to update our current systems,” says Jim Munafo, director of logistics for Medifast. “Our process was very manual and required halting work in one area of the business to begin work in another area. The manual processing of 2,500 to 4,000 daily shipments often resulted in quality issues because of lost or damaged packages.”

Medifast implemented a warehouse management system (WMS) to optimize its distribution center operations by taking pressure off of its main ERP system and improving the functionality of its other systems. Following a seven-month implementation process, Medifast went live with JDA Warehouse Management, from JDA’s Intelligent Fulfillment solution.

“It was seven months of revamping almost every process from the ground up,” says Medifast’s Texas Operations Manager Ross Irving. “Sixty days after launch, we were back to running at 100 percent capacity and starting to reap the benefits. That’s a real quick turnaround time.”

Today, both Munafo and Irving are proud of the results the company has achieved from its investment. “Before, there were many hiccups and bottlenecks. But now, thanks to JDA Warehouse Management, it’s all one smooth, automated flow,” says Irving. “As you’re pushing orders out the door, you’re bringing orders up to the floor pick space. At the same time, you’re receiving product and putting it exactly where it needs to be. Our people are now working on fulfilling orders instead of working on all the paperwork needed to fill an order.”

With the direct-to-work queue in JDA Warehouse Management, about 40 percent of Medifast’s distribution employees are working on what the system is telling them to do. The solution has eliminated the paperwork and all of those movement transactions — and now Medifast’s employees are working in real time. Across its distribution centers, the company has been able to optimize headcount, while maintaining quality and efficiency.  

“By providing the right tools and resources to support our employees in their jobs, we improved productivity across both our distribution centers and greatly enhanced employee morale,” said Guy Sheetz, executive vice president of supply chain of Medifast.  

Medifast has increased its productivity largely as a result of newly integrated pick-to-light systems, as well as weigh-in-motion and inventory tracking capabilities. Real-time visibility into what is happening and what needs to happen on the warehouse floor has empowered Medifast’s staff to make quicker and more effective decisions. There have also been improvements in the receiving function.

“It takes just 30 minutes to receive a truck, including calculating all of the put-away locations,” Munafo closes.