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News

Telemetry-based vendor-managed inventory at Boots plc

Distrupol : 17 December, 2003  (Application Story)
For the past two years Distrupol has successfully operated a silo telemetry stock management system for two PET-bottle production sites of the UKs leading retail chemist, Boots plc.
For the past two years Distrupol has successfully operated a silo telemetry stock management system for two PET-bottle production sites of the UKs leading retail chemist, Boots plc. This telemetric system, based on the microwave measurement of polymer stock level in a customer’s silo, allows for the automatic replenishment of stock without need of human intervention.

The principal advantage of the system is that it safeguards stock levels, ensuring that the customer does not run out of product and significantly reduces the ordering processes and associated paperwork, thereby providing for improved management of supply chain costs.

The system employed by Distrupol utilizes VEGALOG from VEGA Controls Ltd. Telemetry data is fed from a level sensor located in the silo and is accessed at regular intervals via secure modem and stored in a central database at Distrupol’s UK headquarters. The system presents ‘real time’ information and alerts, which are governed by pre-set levels, on Distrupol’s intranet, thereby triggering stock replenishment and providing usage volume data for invoicing. Data is also displayed locally at site. Alerts can also be sent by fax, e-mail or SMS messaging, in addition to traditional graphic display.

According to Malcolm Ratcliffe, responsible for operations at Distrupol: “The system eliminates the need for manual intervention which saves both time and cost but it also increases efficiency on a number of levels.

As well as ensuring timely stock replenishment, it gives real time usage trends, enabling better distribution planning and, from the data it provides, it allows the customer to easily compare usage with finished product output and therefore an accurate productivity gauge.

“Moreover, the provision of accurate usage figures in conjunction with consignment stock agreements means the customer only pays for the material processed, allowing him better optimization of capital employed.”

Distrupol’s adoption of the VEGALOG solution for remote interfacing with customers’ polymer inventories was based on the proven success of VEGA systems in use with major polymer producers, as well as the versatility of VEGALOG itself. The system can be retrofitted to most existing measurement equipment such as load cells or it can be configured to provide a complete-package, microwave level measurement solution. Importantly, it can handle multiple site outputs from anywhere in the world and can be monitored, and where applicable remotely managed, from Distrupol’s UK-based headquarters.

Having demonstrated the value of remote stock management, Distrupol is planning to introduce the benefits of the system more widely to its higher volume customers throughout Europe.
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