This month, best practices takes you to the world of shipping products — at Bemis Manufacturing Co., based in Sheboygan Falls, Wis.
To outsiders, a company's shipping department seems pretty low-key. And certainly at Bemis, the sexy part is the manufacturing.
Bemis has pushed the bounds of injection molding technology for years — for decades, really. Here at Plastics News, the Bemis booth during K 2007 has become the stuff of legend. Bemis ran all-plastic toilet seat hinges on a 450-ton Ferromatik Milacron injection molding machine with a big Foboha cube mold. Bemis invested about $1.75 million on the system.
All for a better toilet seat hinge.
It was amazing. Equally mind-blowing: the massive 6,600-ton Milacron press molding an eight-foot-long hood for a John Deere tractor, up in Sheboygan Falls — and doing coinjection molding. And all those six-axis robots and automated assembly, installed at least a decade before other forward-thinking plastics companies adopted that technology.
But those toilet seats, hoods, shopping carts and everything else, need to be moved to customers. All the Bemis toilet seats have to get to retailer shelves.
So Bemis invested again, in a transportation management system called 3G-TM, from 3Gtms Inc., a software company in Shelton, Conn.
Keith Bassuener, manager of distribution and logistics at Bemis, said the company spent a lot of time checking out other systems. “We evaluated many different systems, but those few that had true pool distribution functionality were too complex to set up and maintain,” he said.
But the system from 3Gtms combines many quality options with powerful optimization. That “saves us a lot of money and doesn't take any more time,” he said.
Bassuener said Bemis has a mix of transportation options to move freight, including truckload and less-than-truckload carriers, with many overlapping points.
“Our mix of freight changes dramatically from day to day,” he said. “We need an optimization product to easily and quickly choose between all of these options and find the most cost-efficient way to move our freight.”
Bassuener said Bemis has used transportation management software products for more than 20 years. “3G-TM was the first modern TMS we found that allowed us to manage our pool points and multi-stop TL planning,” he said.
For a big plastics processor like Bemis, moving the huge mix of products with efficiency is too complicated to be done manually. “But with our optimization engine, it's all done automatically,' said Mitch Weseley, CEO of 3Gtms.
3Gtms lists other customers on its website, www.3gtms.com, including Jeld-Wen Windows & doors, Samsonite, Four Seasons Produce, Koch Logistics, Forward Air Inc., ODW Logistics and Barrett Distribution Centers.