With 100 acres and more than 4 million square feet of heated greenhouse space, Metrolina Greenhouses is the largest single-site greenhouse operation in the United States. Its plants and flowers are shipped to major retailers up and down the Eastern Seaboard. The company enjoys sustained revenue growth in large part because it reliably delivers the quality products its customers have come to expect. To consistently meet demand in a dynamic industry its warehouse operations use Sage 500 ERP with Scanco Enterprise.
A Solution for a Growing Enterprise
For years, Sage 100 ERP served the company well as its accounting and distribution solution, but continued growth and expansion led it to look for a comprehensive and sophisticated warehouse management solution. “We were building a new 100,000 square foot warehouse to consolidate materials from several smaller warehouses on our site,” explains Charles Childers, IT Director for Metrolina Greenhouses. “The timing was right to incorporate true MRP (Materials Requirement Planning) procedures and implement RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) for better planning and control.”
The company evaluated Microsoft Dynamics NAV and SAP before deciding on Sage 500. “Sage 500 had the strongest MRP module,” Childers says. “Combine that with our positive experiences with Sage 100 and our Sage Software business partner and the deal was sealed.”
Accurately Plan for Demand
One of the most important objectives for Metrolina Greenhouses was to streamline its production planning and inventory replenishment. Sage 500 uses historical data and advanced replenishment formulas to help the company easily understand current and future material and distribution requirements. Single-screen planning provides up-to-date item statistics, including on-hand quantities, current purchase orders, work orders, transfer orders, and other elements that affect planning decisions.
MRP calculations generate suggested work orders for manufactured items, purchase orders for raw materials, and requests to move material between locations. “It would be impossible for us to keep on top of our enormous production volume without this tool,” Childers says.
Accurately Track Inventory Movement With RFID
As incoming items, such as plant pots, enter the warehouse, they are scanned with a handheld reader that links to the integrated Sage 500 system, completing the purchase order receipt. Next, an RFID tag is produced for each incoming item using a portable RFID printer. “The automated receipt process speeds the cycle and eliminates routine mistakes,” says Childers. “As the incoming items are scanned, they are validated against the purchase order, ensuring we’re getting what we ordered, in the right quantities.”
Work order picking tickets are printed and sent to the warehouse floor, where workers pull the required items and scan the RFID tag of each. “Nothing leaves the warehouse unscanned,” says Childers. “In an operation this large, it’s imperative that we keep accurate track of our products and their movement, and this system makes it possible.”
Respond to Changing Conditions
Much of the company’s product is distributed to major retailers and home improvement stores. These customers depend on Metrolina Greenhouses for accurate replenishment. “There are no second chances in this industry,” explains Childers. “We need to have our plants in our customers’ hands for prime growing and selling seasons.”
Meeting those expectations involves collecting and analyzing each customer’s sales data on a daily or weekly basis. Metrolina Greenhouses receives sales orders and revised order quantities electronically in their integrated EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) solution. The data is imported into the Sage 500 MRP module where it is compared to existing forecasts and current orders. “We use the live sales data to refine our forecasts and adjust our production accordingly,” says Childers. “The flexibility to dynamically adjust dates and quantities without deleting and reentering data saves us an enormous amount of time.”
Before implementing its Sage 500 and Scanco Enterprise solution, customer sales data and order changes were entered into the software manually, requiring a team of employees 10 to 12 hours a day during the company’s busy seasons. “Without Sage 500 and Scanco Enterprise, we would have had to double our staff to keep up with our increased sales volume,” Childers says. “We invested in tools that help our staff work smarter and faster—and then go home to their families.”
Weather conditions also play a critical role in production forecasts, so the planning department fine-tunes its forecasts and delivery schedules daily, depending upon the growth rate of its plants. “Our customers trust us to deliver what they need when they need it. It’s a large responsibility, but we earn that trust,” Childers adds.
The Ultimate Solution
The company’s sales have increased by millions of dollars a year since the implementation—an increase Childers attributes to the efficiencies promoted by Sage 500 and Scanco Enterprise. “For our industry, there is no software out there that comes close to the functionality of Sage 500 and Scanco Enterprise. We have the ultimate solution.”