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of beverages distributed annually
In a distribution warehouse, work can stop when a product isn’t where it needs to be. That can increase costs and plague customer service. The Charmer Sunbelt Group believes it can improve business commitments and strengthen relationships with the brands it carries by using data analytics, one bottle at a time.
The Charmer Sunbelt Group
New York, New York, USA
US$5 billion (2012)
Supply Chain, Information Technology
After the rampant lawlessness of bootleggers and moonshiners during Prohibition, the United States created a three-tier system for the newly re-legalized manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages. Distributors like the Charmer Sunbelt Group are the vital link between distillers, brewers, and vintners, and the retail marketplaces for their goods. CSG continues to grow by harnessing its data to make sure the right beverage gets from the manufacturer to the right retailer at the right time.
Efficiently distributing 70,000 unique products from 21 different locations to 100,000 customers requires precise coordination to avoid delays and inaccuracies. To ensure operational excellence and customer satisfaction, CSG determined that manually analyzing and reporting from batch data was no longer sufficient.
Because CSG grew from decades of acquiring smaller regional distributors, they didn’t consolidate the various IT, finance, HR and other systems until about 8 years ago, when they chose SAP for managing many critical functions, including order-to-cash process, procure-to-pay process, and human capital management.
To evolve as a distributor, CSG wants to deliver more value to suppliers and customers, and remove costs from the supply chain. This means improving the sophistication of finance, technology, operations, sales, and marketing activities through data analytics. To establish a foundation for their anticipated reliance on real-time data analysis, CSG turned to SAP HANA.
To ensure the successful implementation of SAP HANA, the two companies worked together for more than a year, including about six months with members from SAP Active Global Support who provided on-site implementation assistance. The challenge was to leverage real-time data from four separate operations systems including warehouse conveyor systems, a program that monitors the pace of bottle picking operations, and the company’s SAP inventory, warehouse, and order management suite.
SAP also helps CSG visualize the data and what it means. Color-coded results are displayed on large, flat-panel monitors that allow warehouse managers to quickly view key information, such as remaining inventories of specific product SKUs, estimates of truck unloading time, and whether a forklift driver needs to change locations to prevent a conveyor line from stopping.
The reaction to the SAP HANA data analysis by the roughly 100 users in CSG warehouses has been overwhelmingly positive. As warehouse managers are becoming more familiar with the systems and how they work, they are developing other ways to use the data to improve operations, such as creating their own reports based on the data available in HANA.
Following the successful rollout of SAP HANA in operations, CSG is planning to implement analytics in other areas including Pricing, Customer Service, HR, Purchasing, Finance, and Marketing.
The next steps for CSG also include mobile devices. Some warehouse managers have requested expanding the visual operations dashboards to tablets, alongside an initiative underway to provide approximately 2,500 sales representatives with real-time inventory data via mobile devices. The representatives serve 15 distinct geographic markets in the United States, and CSG views real-time data at the point of sale as a competitive differentiator.