Food Engineering

Software updates old, faithful hardware

January 1, 2008
A combination of old and new brings efficiency to United Dairy Farmers warehouse.

Savanna.NET warehouse management system keeps track of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, other products and storage space at UDF’s warehouse. Source: Westfalia Technologies, Inc.

Based in Cincinnati, OH, United Dairy Farmers (UDF) has been producing frozen desserts since 1939, with a line that includes Homemade Brand premium ice cream and United Dairy Farmers milk and ice cream products. Homemade Brand is currently sold in retail grocery outlets in 14 Midwestern, Mid-central and Southeastern states, as well as at nearly 200 United Dairy Farmers retail stores in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Homemade Brand uses only quality ingredients, and features a full line of frozen desserts, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and no sugar-added products.

The existing storage system, which replenishes pick lanes and fills pallet orders, along with its accompanying control software, were installed as part of a 1995 expansion at UDF’s Erlanger facility, a warehousing and distribution point for both United and third-party products. According to Dale Torline, systems manager for UDF, a company-wide directive to update support hardware subsequently prompted the exploration of new software technologies.

“The Woodson system ran on the database side of the Progress platform,” explains Torline, “and Progress was prompting us to upgrade at the server level, as well as the database level. Our plant system was functional, but it was based on a non-supported platform. So although we opted to keep the warehouse equipment and crane hardware, a major component of our legacy modernization strategy was new control software.

“We chose Savanna.NET® from Westfalia Technologies, Inc. because it delivered the combination of cost-effectiveness, support and functionality we were looking for,” Torline adds. “We also knew that Westfalia had experience with Woodson systems, and also had a number of employees who were formerly associated with the company, which made the transition much easier.”

Savanna.NET is a modular warehouse management system (WMS), and can be adapted to existing or new systems. The tabbed data, grid-view user interface eliminates the need for complicated menus or layers, and is based on actual objects.

The WMS software supports Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and Version 2.0 of the Microsoft .NET Framework (UDF is running Savanna.NET on SQL Server 2005). It can be readily adapted to all customary ERP (enterprise resource planning) and PLC (programmable logic controller) systems, so all existing technology/hardware and hardware/software interfaces can remain in full use.

Torline also notes that, despite some initial interfacing issues, the systems have continued to work in tandem successfully. “We’re an iSeries/AS/400 shop, so everything is very integrated,” he says. “Anyone can access a live snapshot of the inventory in the Westfalia system, so that interface has worked out very well.” Future upgrades will include the addition of the full order pick module. u

For more information:

Juergen Conrad, 717-764-1115, jconrad@westfaliausa.com.