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10/5/2010
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Taking Stock, Torelli Style

Working at Torelli Bicycle Co. in North Hollywood, Calif., takes more than just the physical stamina necessary to withstand the extreme heat of LA's 100-degree-plus Indian summer while rummaging through Torelli's stifling hot warehouse. It also takes a prodigious memory to know precisely what's housed in that cavernous storage area at any point in time.

Working at Torelli Bicycle Co. in North Hollywood, Calif., takes more than just the physical stamina necessary to withstand the extreme heat of LA's 100-degree-plus Indian summer while rummaging through Torelli's stifling hot warehouse. It also takes a prodigious memory to know precisely what's housed in that cavernous storage area at any point in time.This week, we go on a video walk-through of Torelli's storehouse with Communications Director Ray Asante to find out just what he and his co-workers are up against. The glimpse Ray gives us provides an inkling of the hundreds of obscure parts and pieces that make up Torelli's complex inventory - from the imported steel racing frames to the mysterious bags of talcum powder that have raised the suspicions of local law enforcement on at least one occasion. (The powder is used to lubricate the inflatable rubber tubes inside those skinny racing tires, in case you were wondering.)

A big part of the problem is Torelli's old accounting system, which does not provide a real-time snapshot of inventory. As a result, employees are constantly making trips to the warehouse to check inventory levels in order to fill orders. With all four employees answering phones and servicing customers all day long, order entry can also lag behind order taking, creating more potential problems - and more trips to the warehouse.

That's all about to change, however, as the company prepares to "go live" with a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation designed for small and midsize businesses. The new system being installed, courtesy of SAP and Navigator Business Solutions, combines a wide variety of warehouse and inventory management features into a single software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. Major new capabilities of the system will include the ability to:

• Manage inventories in multiple warehouses and locations using methods such as first in, first out (FIFO), moving average or standard costing • Record goods receipts and goods issues, and track stock transfers between locations • Maintain units of measure and item prices in local and foreign currency • Handle consignment, drop-ship and back-to-back orders • Issue and release production orders manually and by backflush • Implement serial and batch number management • Use a "pick-and-pack" manager to fill deliveries • Generate comprehensive item-list, transaction and valuation reports • Perform inventory and cycle counts

As far as Torelli's Asante is concerned, one of the biggest boosts the company will receive from the new ERP system will be the empowerment of the individual employees, who share equally in the tasks of customer and inventory management along with their other duties.

"The thing about calling Torelli is: You'll never get a receptionist [on the phone]," Asante says. "There's no such thing as a lowly salesperson here. Don't be surprised if the president's also packing the box, or delivering it."

Can you remember life "before ERP?" Or maybe you're still living it, waitng for your own company's big ERP makeover -- either way, please share your "war stories" with us. And stay tuned for more news and video updates as Team Torelli flips the switch on its new ERP implementation.

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