ToolsGroup Helps Fechheimer Plan Supply Chain With Military Precision

8/19/2014
After 12 years of continued growth and product line diversification, Berkshire-Hathaway apparel manufacturer Fechheimer accepted that it had finally outgrown its old spreadsheet-based planning tools. It was becoming increasingly difficult for sales reps, customers and planners to collaborate and inventory levels had grown unacceptably high. The company needed to address these concerns, but without compromising the high service levels and reputation it had built up over 170 years in business.

To improve its planning and collaboration, Fechheimer, which specializes in high-performance uniforms for military, law enforcement, fire/EMS, postal and transit personnel, recently rolled out software from supply chain software company ToolsGroup. It now runs a modern planning system that is considerably more sophisticated, but much easier to use than its old, manual Excel-based system. The new system is made up of ToolsGroup SO99+ for inventory optimization and demand forecasting, enhanced with DCH (Demand Collaboration Hub) for team collaboration and fully integrated with Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP software. Feccheimer added the DCH component to support its recently introduced Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process.

Collaborative S&OP is now much more efficient. Before ToolsGroup, the team spent three weeks to finalise a single operating plan using multiple Excel sheets which were floated around among sales managers, regional managers and supply chain managers. With the new system, the process has been cut down to only three days.

Feccheimer's Areas Sales Managers use DCH to communicate and collaborate at their desks or in the field. They can view sales data, communicate with their network of 500 dealers about sales history and trends and make projections based on market intelligence.

One senior planner handles demand planning and inventory planning for five business lines and he has become much more productive and effective. Before ToolsGroup, he spent 80 percent of his time preparing reports for consensus meetings and data cleansing. Now he focuses on 'value added' core planning activities like building consensus with sales and gathering input on new products rather than on tedious data cleansing.

Finally, forecast accuracy is up to 68 percent from the 35-40 percent it was achieving before implementing ToolsGroup. Feccheimer continues to fine-tune the system to improve this and other metrics.

According to Fechheimer's president & CEO, Bob Getto, "ToolsGroup's software has delivered the power and sophistication to handle the volume and variety of our 40,000+ SKUs. At the same time it's easy to learn and use so our salespeople can operate more effectively and our S&OP Committee has the actionable information it needs to make data-driven decisions."
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