Did you know kits have parents? That’s right. At MDS Fulfillment we make sure every kit SKU has a valid parent SKU. It’s one reason we’re a top Midwest kitting center in the US with warehousing, kitting, assembly, and packaging, and best in class fulfillment attracting companies and ecommerce from California and Texas to Florida and New York and yes, even clients right here in our backyard.
Why would anyone send their kits to the Midwest, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin? MDS Fulfillment clients know we love kits and take great care of them. We kit millions of child SKUs to their proper parent SKUs every year for clients of all types and sizes. And, when we ship client kits from our central Midwest fulfillment location, they deliver faster and for less to all of the United States, Canada, and the world! Most import, when these kits arrive at their destination we’ve packed them so that they are quite presentable with everything in place. Our clients and their customers demand it! We deliver it!!
The cost-effective, reliable kitting services we provide at MDS Fulfillment add value and provide the ultimate in flexibility for ecommerce and marketing. In addition, our light assembly capability is robust and broad-based. You create the kit, bundle, or product for assembly and our experienced team “builds” if from an order or bill-of-materials to a finished kit, component, or product. Your special ‘pack-out’ can include sub-assembly of small parts or any items needed for an order or final manufacturing of any kind. We follow specific CAD specifications and QC our assembly to your high-quality standards. We insert, screw, align, attach, print, collate, count, bundle, bag, wrap, label, pack – really any assembly or configuration required. If that sounds good and you want to sell or promote a new product ‘tomorrow’, we’ll make it happen. We not only understand the science of assembly, we also ‘get it’ that kitting and assembly is not only inherent to your business but necessary to sales growth.
Four Cornerstones of MDS Kitting and Assembly Services
Good documentation follows detailed discovery as the first steps to successful kitting. We ask all the right questions to fill in the blanks and create a comprehensive kitting SOP. In addition, we will help to uncover best practice for every kit we build if you don’t know how it should all go together or are looking to improve, enhance, or cut costs. Visuals will include Visio drawings, photos, and physical samples used to confirm kit composition and appearance, in training kitting personnel, and to ensure quality from start to finish of a kit run.
Technology drives our kitting operation from setting up the SKU’s, bill-of-materials, and generating kit work orders, to directing the picking of components to control kit materials and inventory, to automated replenishment when kitted stock reaches its assigned low level.
Process is clearly defined for every kit from handling of items to be received, kitted and/or assembled, packaged, and shipped. We provide work cell, assembly line, and combination kitting production solutions. Process means enforcing efficiency and accuracy by aiding, driving, caging, or removing the human element while integration equipment and automation when prudent.
Quality of MDS kitting and assembly operations is supported by our Six Sigma-based approach to fulfillment. Kaizen is another tool we use to drive CIP in our kitting environment. We engineer solutions for best practice using simple hand kitting and assembly techniques, weigh scale and lot control piece counting, building of jigs and fixtures to deliver and maintain precise positioning of parts. Physical sampling, ‘nth’ unit count/quality inspection, and visual aids are keys to MDS kitting and assembly quality ensuring each item is in its exact place and in the correct quantity per kit.
How does kitting work at MDS Fulfillment?
Our kitting process seamlessly integrates with MDS client fulfillment programs running on an ongoing basis with discrete order picking, packing, and shipping. We also kit and assemble simple to complex and small to large one-off projects that can ship one-to-many, many-to-one, or any combination in-between. While MDS technology and facility with client data plays a huge role in delivering exceptional, even miraculous outcomes. Truly, it is the human factor, the going above and beyond the call by MDS skilled people that produces accolades like this:
Just had some good news to pass on to you. We’re happy to report that our customer (MDS NOTE: a large national retail chain) has nominated us for the A.R.E. Above & Beyond awards! (MDS NOTE: A.R.E. stands for Association for Retail Environments) In addition, we’ve been selected as a finalist for the overall award for the year. This awards program acknowledges the outstanding levels of performance that A.R.E. members provide to their customers each year by recognizing members that have exceeded their customers’ expectations, and in some cases, made the impossible possible.
As a finalist, we (MDS’ Client) will be acknowledged in the March issue of A.R.E.’s Retail Environments magazine and will receive additional company coverage in another issue during the year. The overall winner will be included in the Winners Book and will be presented with an award onstage during the A.R.E. Design Awards presentation in Las Vegas.
I’m sure this is in part due to the great work you all do on our customer jobs! Thanks and keep it up!Jake (Outsource Manager)
Example of a Kitting Project Specification
The most meaningful way to illustrate how the kitting and assembly process works at MDS that will demonstrate core principles we follow is by example. This is because every kitting and/or assembly job will have its own unique process and often demands a fresh approach never used before or with modifications. At MDS we apply creativity in engineering client kitting solutions. Here’s one example.
Company X sought out MDS’ services based upon our reputation with kitting high volumes of large and varied items. This challenge was putting together a kit designed for drop shipment via parcel to 980 retail locations timed to launch the new selling season. Items created by “marketing” had to be effectively kitted and shipped to achieve a positive experience at the store level within budget. Enter MDS Fulfillment. The image above shows one path to solving client kitting and assembly challenges. We identify the elements by scale drawing. This is important when physical samples or visuals are unavailable. We identify and document components to fulfill all client objectives and uncover all fulfillment costs. We find the overlooked or unknown aspects to the project. We analyze and quote the best possible shipping method for cost and time in transit.
We apply best practice kitting, assembly, and packaging into a workflow assigning specific, detailed tasks from start to finish. We determine space, receiving, staging, materials, handling, kitting, assembly, cartons, and packaging materials to ship at the best cost, accurately, and with high quality. The image in this panel shows a large and fragile signage grouping with KDF display packed for secure travel to make space for other items in the same carton. We integrate work cell, assembly line, and combination cell/line kitting, assembly, and packaging solutions. Process is clearly defined for every kit from handling of items to be received, kitted and/or assembled, packaged, and shipped.
Quality processes will enforce efficiency and accuracy by aiding, driving, caging, or removing the human element by integrating hand work, equipment, other tools, and automation when prudent. The more complex the kit the brighter MDS Fulfillment shines. We think ‘big picture’ and practice Six Sigma quality principles. Thus, two different sub-kits were needed, with each kit broken down into numerous sub-groups supporting pick and pack by order per location for one item (T-Shirts by size) and sortation based on grouping identical Kits together. A tight production window forced tier shipping by transit time driving output of FedEx Ground Shipping Labels. The main box size/shape could not exceed Oversize 3. As a fail-safe measure, we secured a waiver of OS3 to eliminate an estimated $60,000 in shipping overages the client was prepared to pay before outsourcing was considered.