WineWorks has now embraced automation for its supply chain efficiency, and set up its first Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system.

Warehouse management systems are sitters for automation. A few years ago, it became obvious that WineWorks’ size required a more automated operation in our warehouses, due to the sheer number of transactions, stock movements and orders being dispatched.   We implemented a state-of-the-art system similar to a large grocery operation where all items are barcoded and picking stock occurs in real time. When the stock is removed for dispatch by barcode, stock numbers are updated automatically.

Our barcoded automated system is very good, allowing us to know where every single bottle of wine is located. As long as you run it right, the system has an amazing degree of accuracy.   This type of sophisticated warehousing system also has the capacity for ‘add-on’ features. One of these is EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange.

Recently we introduced EDI into our Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay warehouses as a step towards further integrating the wine industry supply chain. This was in direct response from the issues many of our customers were facing and the desire to further streamline their sales and ordering process.

So how does EDI work? Currently a winery will receive an order from a customer and input it into their accounting system. They then re-enter the order into WineWorks’ portal, which sends the order through to our warehouse. If the order is emailed, WineWorks’ staff re-enter the order into our system, making a third step and a further chance for errors.

EDI eliminates the need for any re-entering of data after the initial order is inputted. The winery simply enters their order into their computer system that is fitted with EDI software, which then sends the order directly to the WineWorks server. The scanners receive the information, humans pick the stock and dispatch it. Done.

Sacred Hill was the first winery in Hawke’s Bay to adopt EDI, with Sileni, Yealands and Constellation also interested in this technology. For Sacred Hill, it’s already proving its worth.

Cameron Sutton, Sacred Hill’s production manager identified that if they could send their sales orders via EDI to us, it would reduce administration processing costs, negate duplicate rekeying of orders, remove error input rates, eliminate stock from being allocated if not available and allow for more orders to be sent.

No matter what business you’re in, trust is vital when dispatching goods to your customers. Mistakes cost money and time, but more importantly, they cost you your reputation. In our business, if the wrong stock turns up at a wine store, there is a courier charge to retrieve it and costs associated with re-picking and re-sending the right order. Not forgetting an annoyed customer and an annoyed winery.

I predict EDI will result in up to 50 percent fewer keying errors and increase efficiency in the supply chain between a winery’s sales team and our warehouse. EDI is very common in large FMCG businesses and we can replicate the same efficiencies in our industry by streamlining the ordering process.

EDI won’t suit everyone. But it will suit wineries of any size that are multi-transactional. Sales reps will be able to input orders from their phone that is linked to their computer system and the orders will automatically be sent to WineWorks. They can also track the order as it’s being dispatched.

It’s the way of the future and I think EDI will be a great benefit for many of our customers looking to streamline their sales and dispatch process. Technology is helping us streamline our business and together with our customers, we can use automation to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in our supply chain.

Flow Software are willing and able to help other wineries do the same. Their press release here. We are keen to get you onto this system , and will be progressively moving wineries over throughout this year.