Read About USTRANSCOM Leader and South Korean Major General Visiting Logistics, Below
GERMERSHEIM, Germany – The Germersheim Distribution Center (GEDC) may only be slightly more than a year old, but the warehouse already is the second most efficient among the Exchange’s 11 DCs around the world.
From the 420,000-square-foot DC two-and-a-half miles from the Port of Germersheim on the Rhine River, 196 Exchange associates handle logistics for supplies and general merchandise destined for stores throughout Europe, Southwest Asia, contingency locations as well as regional merchandise headed to the Pacific.
In just its first year, Germersheim improved productivity through technology and reduced miles driven by 235,000 miles, equating to about $800,000 in cost avoidance due to being closer to the customers and the Port of Germersheim, a major shipping hub.
Although Germersheim is about one-third the size of the DC it replaced 110 miles away in Giessen, the number of shipments rose by 15 percent—or more than 586,000 cases. The Exchange collaborated with other military agencies to combine transportation efforts and reduce costs.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way associates at the distribution center have handled the first year of operations,” said Germersheim DC Manager Jason Rakestraw. “We have become significantly more efficient, especially considering that we’re considerably smaller than Giessen, and developing special partnerships with other organizations to handle their warehousing and distribution needs.”
The Germersheim DC ships beverages, boxed food, appliances and other merchandise to main stores and Express locations throughout that part of the world, including raw goods and materials the Exchange’s bakery and water plant in Gruenstadt, Germany.
The relocation of the Exchange’s Germersheim distribution center from Giessen came at the request of U.S. Army Europe as part of the European Infrastructure Consolidation. The grand opening on Feb. 1, 2017 capped off a move more than a decade in the making.
Since the grand opening, the Exchange has partnered with the Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Commissary Agency and other organizations to provide business-to-business (B2B) transportation support in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, contributing $4 million in sales during fiscal year 2017.
The Exchange uses the Defense Logistics Agency at the Germersheim Army Depot for shipping to contingency locations, including 20 trailers of B2B items for military exercises in Romania. Many B2B items are office supplies shipped to small troop-run stores throughout Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia.
Roughly 20 percent of the cases shipped by the Exchange from Germersheim is for DeCA. A successful online ordering method implemented between the Exchange and DeCA in 2017 improved supply-chain efficiencies and customer satisfaction in Europe.
Pooling demand from both commissaries and Exchanges—and taking advantage of Exchange delivery trucks already delivering to stores throughout Europe—helped reduce costs and improve product availability along with speed to shelf. This tag-teaming helped protect margins for both organizations and reduce write-offs of expired inventory in OCONUS.
Going High tech
The Germersheim DC’s second-place in productivity ranks behind the West Coast Distribution Center in California. Both contain the modern JDA warehouse management system that has streamlined operations and boosted productivity, thus allowing the Exchange to get the products to customers much quicker. JDA is the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company that created and installed the management technology.
At Germersheim, a JDA trainer works on-site to answer associate questions and solve challenges. The trainer’s presence has proven so successful that the Logistics Directorate is embedding JDA trainers at all Exchange warehouses that have the same management system that powers Germersheim and West Coast.
“The JDA person at Germersheim not only trains associates, but answers questions one-on-one, leaving managers to do what they do best—and that is to manage,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Logistics Officer Karen Stack. “The JDA trainer identifies problems in the workflow, figures out what led to the issue and corrects the problem on the spot to keep the distribution center working at the fastest rate possible.”
Other notable notes
Other notable news about the Germersheim DC in its maiden year:
- 82 percent of its 196 associates are new—nearly 13 percent are U.S. Veterans
- Cost per case improved by 11 percent in fiscal year 2017, dropping from $3.17 to $2.82
- Cases per computed number of employees improved by 33 percent, from 2,012 to 2,684
- New picking technology for layer picking can pick 3,000 cases an hour, compared to 90 cases prior to the technology upgrade—the Logistics Directorate will be sending this technology to other Exchange DCs
- TV monitors at each workstation help communicate the workload throughout the warehouse, making it possible for all associates to view productivity and keep production levels at the same high level throughout the center
- Business-to-business clients include U.S. Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation; the U.S. Air Force Services; the Navy Exchange; the U.S. Embassy
Read and see more about the Germersheim Distribution Center:
Scenes from Germersheim
USTRANSCOM Leader Visits HQ Logistics, Waco DC
CMSgt Matthew Caruso, senior enlisted advisor to Gen. Darren McDew of the U.S. Transportation Command, visited Exchange headquarters and the Waco Distribution center recently to get a first-hand look at the Exchange’s massive logistics and supply chain network.
Caruso met with leaders of the Exchange’s Logistics Directorate to see how USTRANSCOM can better support the Exchange’s mission. USTRANSCOM delivers Exchange merchandise over ocean from distribution centers and vendors in support of global retail operations to locations in Europe, the Pacific and Southwest Asia.
“He told all of our associates here at headquarters and at Waco how important they are to the Soldiers and Airmen around the world who receive our products,” said Morgan Meeks, vice president of transportation operations. “He said he would do anything possible to tell the Exchange story wherever he goes and communicate our benefits and get our message out to active duty troops, their families, military retirees and Veterans.
“He wanted to know how USTRANSCOM and the Exchange can work together to overcome some of the challenges of shipping our cargo.”
CMSgt Caruso was particularly interested in the technology the Exchange has implemented since USTRANSCOM is undergoing a technology modernization, Meeks said. His tour of the Waco DC showed him various aspects of the Exchange’s distribution capabilities, including technology and small-package shipping activities.
To recognize their job performances, CMSgt Caruso presented his coins to Peggy Bonilla, Michael Bravo, Matt Diaz, Demarcus Halibirton, Roberta Hawk, Robert Lopez, Robert Oljarski and Christina Perez, all of the Waco DC; Alan French, Dan Galipp, Carla Hamblen, Karen Hatley, Brenda Hester, Morgan Meeks and Billy Shirley, all of HQ’s Logistics Direcorate; Faye Bagoyo-Shaw, Eric Boen, Jalessa Clinton, Tina Destefani, Dee Loper, Kim Worrell and Chad Young, all of HQ’s Merchandising Directorate; Nalan Howard of HQ’s Services, Food and Fuel Directorate; and Jamie Deramee, of HQ’s Executive Group.
ROK General and Top Aides Visit Exchange, Fort Hood and Waco DC
A major general and two top officers from South Korea visited the Exchange June 8-10 and came away quite impressed with the selection of merchandise and how well the distribution centers use technology to get products out the door and to customers as quickly as possible.
Republic of Korea MG Sangbum Shin, COL Sukwon Lee and LTC Jinwook Lee also visited the Exchange at Fort Hood and the Waco Distribution Center and were amazed at the size of the store, the number of products offered, and how the DC uses technology to get shipments out the door and en route to customers as quickly as possible.
Added benefits of the visit will come in the near future as the Exchange expands its footprint at South Korea’s Camp Humphreys and moves its distribution center from Camp Market to Camp Humphreys. In November, the Exchange opened a 300,000-square-foot shopping mall at Camp Humphreys as the U.S. Army relocates thousands of troops and their families from elsewhere in the country.
MG Shin is the ROK’s Army chief of staff, while COL Sukwon Lee is chief of the transportation division and LTC Jinwook Lee is the division’s development support officer.
Impressed with Exchange technology
At the Exchange headquarters, the trio met with Executive Vice President and Chief Logistics Officer Karen Stack; Executive Vice President and Chief HR Officer Leigh Roop; and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jim Jordan. Stack and her team told the officers about the transformation of the Logistics Directorate and supply chain operations that helped turn the Exchange into the omni-channel retailer it is today. Division Merchandise Manager Dan Koglin briefed MG Shin and his two senior officers on the Exchange’s Military Clothing Sales operations—a special interest to MG Shin.
Sandra Lute, vice president of marketing, briefed MG Shin and his officers on the Exchange’s mission, service, value and relevancy to the Nation’s Warfighters, their families and Veterans. Mickey Bradford, senior vice president of information technology, took the visitors on a tour of the Exchange’s modern data center.
The next day, MG Shin and his officer saw associates in action at the Fort Hood Exchange and Waco Distribution Center. The size of the store and breadth of the product selection at the Exchange impressed the officers, said Alan French, vice president of logistics.
“He was very impressed with use of technology enabling reordering, and especially the capability of Ship-from-Store for eCommerce,” French said. “He was very interested with the assortment and supply line of the Military Clothing Store. He took special note of how we featured our commercial offerings alongside the uniform items.”
MG Shin also was quite impressed with the size of the Waco DC, the smallest of the Exchange’s distribution centers in CONUS.
“He gained a good understanding of how we leverage technology to lower operating costs and was very interested in how we pick and ship eCom merchandise to make sure shipments were processed and shipping within one day,” French said. “He was quite impressed with the volumes we handle daily at each distribution center.
“He said the visit gave him many ideas to take back to Korea.”