Global Optics Strengthens Its Supply Chain Links

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GREEN BAY, Wis.—Global Optics provides consolidated purchasing and proficient logistical solutions and distribution to independent optical labs. From its huge, well-stocked warehouse located here, Global Optics serves more than 200 optical laboratories with spectacle lenses sourced from more than 20 vendors.

The company currently ships in the mid-30,000s of lenses per day to more than 200 different locations, and it provides a 99 percent fill ratio to its customers on a regular basis, according to general manager Barbara Vitchus, who has extensive experience in supply chain management.

This month, Global initiated a new Warehouse Management System which will enable the integration of its back office functions, orders, inventory management and billing. The new system is designed to decrease handling of products by enabling machines to verify lenses via barcodes instead of having warehouse employees learn about lenses.

Vitchus spoke to VM about how the system will strengthen the links in its supply chain, as well as the company’s strategy for reducing its shipping costs.

Vitchus said, “Today’s customers want and expect high fill rates. We pride ourselves by providing a weekly 99 percent fill ratio. However, we must think about the cost of this. It is expensive to keep a large inventory and immediate demand creates express shipping. Managing supply chains means mitigating some of these high costs of inventory and express freight rates.

“When an ECP needs a single lens, in many cases the shipping will cost more than the lens. We need to manage this process in a cost efficient manner. And with so much of the general public ordering ‘soup to nuts’ online, (think Amazon and Walmart), we need to make certain the shippers can handle all of the freight headed their way.

“Companies like Amazon and Walmart with their high volume of shipments are able to negotiate highly competitive shipping rates. Smaller companies subsidize those discount rates,” Vitchus noted.


Going the Last Mile
“The increasing shipping costs and concerns about ‘Last Mile Shipping’ is happening in all industries,” Vitchus pointed out. “Think of Last Mile Shipping as the movement of people and goods from a transportation hub to a final destination in the home. Think Uber.

“You land at the airport and have an Uber driver waiting to take you to your final location in lieu of getting on a bus or train and making many stops before your final destination. Now think of your 50-pound package of lenses arriving at a freight hub and an Uber-like driver picks up your package and brings it to your location in lieu of being put on another truck and following a delivery path to get the package to your door. Think of the possibilities of a 15- minute final delivery versus a six-hour delivery.


System for Managing Inventory in Real Time
“Global is initiating a new Warehouse Management System that directly connects to our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. This creates a sophisticated inventory management system that is connected to and feeds off all warehouse activity.

“All product is scanned into our system so we have a real-time inventory of product on the shelf or in the warehouse waiting to be placed on the shelf. When a customer views a product on our website, they now see the availability of the product.”

Vitchus expects these improvement will bring significant benefits to Global Optics. “A stronger Global Optics provides stronger customer service and stronger links to our vendors,” she said. n