How Qnectus Helped an E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Provider Maintain KPIs at Higher Levels of Volume

IronLinx Fulfillment is an e-commerce-focused order fulfillment provider based in Kennett Square, PA.

In January 2021, IronLinx hit an unexpected operational snag. As both SKU counts and order volume grew, the processes which IronLinx had put in place a few months before in response to a prior surge suddenly became less effective – with key performance indicators (KPIs) like daily order output per worker experiencing notable declines.

On the surface, IronLinx’s existing system made a lot of sense. In e-commerce, as in many other facets of life, Pareto distributions (the well-known 80/20 rule) are common. Accordingly, IronLinx had designed its processes to physically place critical, fast-moving SKUs immediately behind shipping stations so that picking, packing, and shipping could be handled by the same worker.

When the typical IronLinx customer shipped between 500-2000 orders per day, this process was very effective; however, as several customers scaled and each consistently hit 4000-5000 orders per day, the process became bottlenecked.

A few problems:

  • As additional workers were added to handle the increase in volume, they began to impede one another – thereby slowing down the picking process.
  • Further, as additional packaging stations, by necessity, had to be brought online further away from the fast-moving inventory, average walking distances per pick increased materially.
  • To counter the distance problem, picking locations for individual SKUs were increased; however, this complicated and slowed down inventory replenishment.

The end result: IronLinx was getting the work done on time; however, this came at the expense of efficiency and profitability – and further growth was only going to further exacerbate the problem. Transformational change was needed.

And this is where Qnectus comes into the conversation.

Qnectus worked with IronLinx’s core operational and technical staff to rework its processes – which began with a deep dive into its core warehouse management system (WMS).

IronLinx’s WMS had previously been reworked to combine the picking and packing functions. Now, it seemed like the two functions needed to be separated once again to allow for more staff to be simultaneously working on the same account. This was effected.

Next, Qnectus worked with IronLinx to swap out its iPads for Zebra handheld devices and design an array of barcode-based, mobile picking bins, trays, and racks.

The end result: IronLinx’s KPIs have returned to normal – at levels of volume which are now 30-50% higher than they were when things originally bogged down in January.