Mars logistics team develops innovative warehouse management system driving efficiencies and saving millions of dollars
The first-of-its-kind technology was developed and implemented in less than one year.
Mars, Incorporated – maker of some of the world’s most loved confectionery, snacking, food, and pet care brands, including M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, BEN’S ORIGINAL™, PEDIGREE®, and IAMS® – has implemented a new warehouse management system (WMS) that was developed, tested and implemented across 10 North American Mars warehouse sites in just eight months.
As one of the world’s leading treats, snacks and food manufacturers, Mars processes massive volumes of ingredients, packaging materials and finished products. So, when Carlos Miranda, a physical logistics functional expert, realized that revolutionizing the WMS with more capabilities and a user-friendly interface would save the company money to be reinvested in continuous improvement initiatives, he got to work.
Using the company’s Five Principles (Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, Freedom) as their north star, Carlos and his team developed and pitched a plan to their leadership team outlining how to revolutionize the system. Once approved, Carlos’ team was empowered to connect with vendors to develop the new system and introduce to Mars warehouse sites in the United States, Canada and Mexico, some as big as 1.5 million square feet.
“Mars is known for delivering its iconic, quality products to our consumers and part of that process includes identifying new and innovative ways to achieve excellence in the warehouses where they’re stored and transported,” said Erik Owino, Senior Vice President of Supply for Mars Wrigley North America. “It is because of this novel idea and commitment to excellence from Carlos and his team that this brand-new system came to life.”
Mars built its new system to include:
- Cloud operating capabilities: Cloud capabilities offer cost savings since there’s no need to maintain physical data centers. They’re also updated every year as opposed to the industry standard of every 5-7 years for physical centers.
- Optimized task interleaving process: All components of the WMS are programmed to complete tasks as they proceed to their next location.
- User-friendly interface: With an improved interface, multi-step processes, like returning goods from packing to storage, can now be done with just one scan in the system.
- “Train the Trainer” program: Mars has developed an educational program focused on training key users ahead of implementation, so by the time the WMS goes live at a warehouse, users are already familiar with the system.
“I take a lot of pride in the work I do along with all of the Mars Associates who work with our warehouses and 3PL partners to help our business run smoothly and successfully,” Miranda said. “I’ve worked at Mars for 12 years and one of the reasons is the trust that leadership puts in its Associates to identify and pursue big ideas and opportunities. It’s incredible to see the impact our new WMS has had and I’m grateful for the empowerment and the opportunity to develop, test and implement these changes across our operations.”
As Mars continues to optimize the system, other parts of the Mars business stand to benefit. In the coming months, the company will continue to pilot this new system across the Mars portfolio.