WEGMANS LOOKS TO EXPAND COLLABORATION EFFORTS

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., said it is looking to expand a successful pilot program that helped it reduce truck unloading time by 38% through collaboration with a manufacturer."We hope to ramp this up in the industry going forward," said Mike Bargmann, director of distribution for the 60-store supermarket chain, which did $2.8 billion in sales last year.The pilot, conducted

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y., said it is looking to expand a successful pilot program that helped it reduce truck unloading time by 38% through collaboration with a manufacturer.

"We hope to ramp this up in the industry going forward," said Mike Bargmann, director of distribution for the 60-store supermarket chain, which did $2.8 billion in sales last year.

The pilot, conducted with Welch's, Concord, Mass., makers of juices and jellies, involved a retailer-vendor collaboration. The results of the six-month project were recently reported here during the Food Marketing Institute's Distribution Conference.

The pilot project involved using advanced shipping notices, special shipping labels and increased "point-to-point" communication between people with the same jobs in the two organizations, Bargmann said.

"This industry is no different from any other. If you don't understand what people are talking about, it is very hard to relate to what is going on. But when we go point-to-point, it's easy to have a conversation," Bargmann said.

The six-month pilot started in September 2000. Because of its success, Wegmans and Welch's are trying extend it to other industry participants.

"We want to drive the collaboration effort to see if we can draw the sellers and buyers closer together so they can understand what each other's needs are, and hopefully do that efficiently," Bargmann explained.

According to company officials, the mission of the project was to "identify and implement a replenishment process+that minimizes cost throughout the supply chain, improves store service and increases sales."

The pilot aimed to improve the use of cross-docking and backhauling and to make better use of synchronizing pallet patterns.

Having made improvements in these areas, the next steps in the project are to continue to improve the cross-docking opportunities, refine new processes, examine store opportunities and work on CPFR (collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment).

"Collaboration is at the heart of how we think things are going to go forward," Bargmann said. "If we are going to work in a B-to-B environment, if we are going to work with the exchanges, we are going to need this same collaborative relationship with our suppliers, because that is what it is all about," he said.

"We can create a win-win situation for the retailer/wholesaler and for the manufacturer by working together," he said.