“I’m Jim Zantow, I’m the General Manager here for Midwest Refrigerated Services in McFarland and Madison, WI. I run two warehouses here in the location. We have customers that pull product out of the warehouse in three main ways: full truckload in, full truckload out, same lot in, same lot out. Then we have others who pull out, say, either case pick or pallet and they’ll specify “we need this lot and this date code”. And then we have the other customer, one very large specific customer that they specifically want that pallet into our warehouse and they want that one back. One of the nice things we’ve enjoyed with Datex is we don’t get nickeled and dimed for all the little add-ons that we need to stay functional. They support us, like we hope that they would support us when we picked them. Our system varies as far as the amount of traffic that we handle here. We tend to be in a cycle and my job has been to build those cycles so they overlap so we are never at one time very empty. We are currently running at approximately 105% occupancy. That’s not norm, but that’s good to have in this industry. We will build up in the early part of the year and will ship out in the fourth quarter 70-80 million pounds of product in the last two months of the year. On a truck wide basis we may ship out 20 trucks a day for twelve weeks in a row. There are times at harvest time that we are receiving in vegetables; we may receive in 40 truckloads a day and that’s in addition to our outbounds that we have. We may have anywhere from 9-15 outbounds scheduled for that same day using the same docks. What we find is, the ability to ship product and receive at the same time in a very small area because the system works so well and so fast it has enabled us to utilize the space better than we could in the past. We store a variety of different food products and food ingredients. We are heavy in the dairy industry; we do cheese. We also store quite a bit of butter, bulk and finished products in different varieties, different variations. We also store ingredients for the dairy industry, high end cultures that we ship worldwide with international carriers that come out of the facility every day. Whole packaged meat products export in containers, all vacuum sealed and lot controlled. And then we also have retail product that we do case pick for. We do distribution for pizza customers and some steak customers, as well as dairy products as well that we ship out. We started the process going to the IRW annual show in Florida and we spoke with probably 20 different vendors and gave them our list of what we had to have and then we asked them to respond and from that list we narrowed it down to about seven and sent them some follow-up questions. Based on those replies we had three that were really in the ball park that we thought were good contenders. We asked each one of those to come in and give us a demo, show us their product. We had already seen their product at the IRW show, but we wanted to get a little more in depth with our data. And from there it was pretty cut and dry once we really saw the applications here and did some testing on our own. The consensus between everyone here was there was only one choice that would be good for our warehouse. From the IT standpoint we wanted to make sure that we were on an open architecture type sequel database and we also wanted to make sure we had .net compatibility. The other vendors both told us it was coming and Datex had it. One thing we noticed is that at the time the current supported sequel environment that Datex had was not the most current one. We said we needed to have that in order to make that switch and within two weeks they had the operation running on the newest version of sequel. So we knew they had the expertise to make the changes we would need to support the business. From an operational standpoint, we wanted to make sure that it was fast. It was lightning fast, which was what we needed and also very easy to learn. And based on the Microsoft programs functionality with the drop down boxes it looked like Microsoft Outlook and everyone in the world is familiar with Microsoft Outlook and Excel. Part of our system that we use, we also have EDI interfaces with many of our customers. Some of those are blind receipts where we just scan the trailer and as soon as we open the order all those pallets or license plates are on our dock and we just go to putaway function which speeds up the operation here and also ties our inventory back to the customers inventory. So we are going to send them back the response “Yep, we got the whole truck” and everything is in sync. When we put it away you’ll know something’s not on there because the EDI will say 27 are supposed to be there, 26 are not, but that’s never happened. Traceability, the barcode functionality, the ability to add barcodes on the fly has been fantastic.”

Jim Zantow
General Manager
Midwest Refrigerated Services
Madison, WI USA

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