We have been a trusted partner to our client The Mens Wearhouse for more than a decade now. Over the years, we have worked on numerous material handling and sortation controlsystems projects – from new lines to retrofits, like this one featured in Modern Materials Handling Magazine.
In our most recent projects, we had the privilege of taking on a rebuild of their sorters from start to finish. Our engineers really enjoy when we have the opportunity to take on an end-to-end project. The challenge of this new project gave the engineers the chance to flex their creative muscles to design and develop a solution to fulfill TMW’s wish list.
With TMW’s recent acquisition of Joseph A. Bank, the warehouse has many more locations to ship to. This required TMW to create a new warehouse management system (WMS) to coordinate all the stores and facilities. On top of the new WMS system, TMW needed to repurpose their garment sorters to sort inventory by hub, and then sort from hub to store instead of the previous store based sort.
This project was a great example of repurposing old equipment as well as bridging into the new WMS and adding new technology to maximize effectiveness and minimize cost.
On the hardware side, we were able to use the existing sorting hardware (trolleys, hangers, hooks, gates, etc.) and add stationary and handheld barcode scanners. The stationary scanners scan items as they move through the sorter. Warehouse employees can use the handheld scanners as they put trolleys in temporary storage from the hub sorter. They can also use the same scanners to look up where each item is located when they gather trolleys to sort by store.
On the software side, we built everything from scratch. We programmed the controls, created a backend database and a frontend web interface, and integrated to the new WMS and the existing HMIs.
The new WMS manages all inventory across the country. Integration required dozens of little data handoffs between our system and the larger system. Our system simply tracked inventory from the hub sorter through the store sorter exchanging data with the WMS along the way.
The frontend web interface was built specifically for the employees in this facility. It integrates with the existing HMIs, so employees can see what’s happening from any computer on the network. It allows the users to build batches, track items, and track productivity.
Building the entire system from scratch – writing all the programs, designing the web interface, creating the applications to interact with the warehouse management system – allowed our engineers to create a solution exactly to TMW’s specifications. This system was custom built for them and fits the unique needs of their facility. “This project was fun and challenging due to the complexity of the data and the interactions with the host system,” said Ian Mogab, one of our control engineers on the project.
The project had an added challenge of a short timeline and a drop-dead deadline. The system went from idea to implementation in just three months. It was completed in coordination with two other system updates, which all had to be taken live simultaneously. Any delay on our part would have caused a disruption to the entire system. Despite some unforeseen challenges (every project has them!), Patti engineers still had the project complete on time and on budget.
“Despite the tight timeline, Patti Engineering delivered- on time and on budget,” said Jason McNair, IT manager at The Men’s Wearhouse.
Nick Hitchcock's Bio
Texas Director of Operations
Hired in 2008, Nick Hitchcock has served in several engineering and management roles in the company’s Austin office. Starting out at the Michigan office, and moving to Texas in July 2010, he now serves as the Director of Texas Operations.
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