Jergens Industrial Supply (JIS) is a technical distributor of industrial products. After implementing IoT Express reorder buttons, JIS experienced a 30% increase in productivity, with millions of dollars of cost savings.
“One of the problems our customers typically have is that they don’t have the tools that they need in order to do their job,” explained Matt Schron, general manager at JIS. “We are always trying to help them get the supplies they need quicker, faster, better, and at a lower cost. More and more customers are jumping online and buying. So, we need to get ahead of the click. With our unique Express buttons, we’ve reached a whole new customer demographic. We always want to give customers a reason to keep giving JIS their business rather than switching to new competitors, and in this case that was a smart, ‘sticky,’ just-in-time inventory management solution that offers ultimate convenience and can scale as they grow.”
Jergens Industrial Supply
JIS is a division of Jergens, Inc. The latter is a manufacturer of:
- standard tooling components
- hoist rings
- other workholding equipment
As Ohio’s largest, most technical distributor of metalworking products, JIS provides fast delivery and a 1,000-square-foot showroom representing over 300 of the top manufacturers in the United States. In addition, its website offers online ordering capabilities for customers and delivery nationwide. Catering to customers via many buying options is a priority as well as a distinguishing attribute for JIS in the growth of its business.
JIS and Epicor Prophet 21
JIS obtained its 30% increased productivity through the introduction Epicor Prophet 21. This solution empowered a frictionless inventory management solution and the flexibility to deliver a positive customer experience because Epicor Prophet 21 anticipates shifting customer demands and preferences. This can then drive process efficiencies and productivity.
Following the implementation of Epicor Prophet 21, JIS began to examine the early Internet of Things (IoT) Dash Buttons that Amazon was bringing to market (though recently discontinued). This sparked a plan for JIS to engineer Wi-Fi-enabled IoT Express buttons themselves to support on-premises remote product resupply.
In order to get ‘ahead of the click’ of online buying, JIS introduced its JIS Express Program. This involved spreading its IoT buttons to multiple vendors. When pressed, the Express button sends an order to that distributor which includes:
- the part number
- the amount of product needing replenishment.
Every time someone pushes a JIS Express button, it collectively represents hundreds of millions of dollars saved. Since integrating vending machines with Epicor Prophet 21 software, JIS has experienced 30% improved productivity in cost savings because the buttons:
- reduce walk, and talk, time for workers to get the tools and materials needed
- decrease the time and effort involved in contracting and purchase order processing for manufacturing back office personnel
- lower the time and effort for JIS customer service personnel in contracting, order entry and fulfilment.
“The ever-growing competition of Amazon presented a compelling business case for Jergens Industrial Supply to start innovating in order to achieve their goal of ‘getting ahead of the click’ and offering customers faster, better delivery at lower cost,” said Mark Jensen, senior director of product management, distribution, at Epicor. “The Epicor team saw this as a great opportunity to put expanded IoT capabilities to use in Prophet 21 to see how we could help this steadfast company remain successful amidst growing market challenges.”
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Understanding how this works is important. At 3 a.m., JIS vending machines place replenishment orders, which are then automatically logged, invoiced and staged with labels and delivery tickets for drivers. The JIS Express buttons, which are affixed to racks or shelving on or next to equipment or drawers, are onsite and connected to an on-premise wireless network and the JIS ERP system.
With each button customized with a distributor’s name and/or the name of a frequently ordered product, pushing the button triggers an order. One push equals one item at a pre-configured reorder quantity. This results in a confirmation of order email to a pre-approved order manager which includes a link to the customer control portal (a secure web page accessible by smartphone, tablet or PC). The order notification alerts track all buttons pushed in a 24-hour period. The order manager can then review, edit and/or approve items ordered in the past 24 hours.
The system then batches all items at 3 p.m. every day which means that customers can review orders daily. Confirmed orders:
- go directly from the customer portal into Prophet 21 for review and approval
- then either ship to the customer for replenishment or are delivered by the distribution team.
As a way to drive productivity this is ingenious. Enterprise Times has encountered few such instance of IoT being so ‘in the face’ of an enterprise’s own staff, like at JIS, and customers.