The nation's leading supplier of online education materials for students pre-K through high school was feeling some logistics growing pains, and they needed remedial help in supply chain management. UPS provided an advanced degree in warehousing, distribution and reverse logistics.
K12, Inc. develops curriculum and technology-based learning programs, partnering with charter schools and traditional school districts to provide students everything they need for a high-quality online education—instructional materials, textbooks, even a new or refurbished computer. Materials are shipped to individual students at hundreds of thousands of unique locations. For years, UPS and K12 shared a successful shipping relationship. But when K12 wanted to improve its old-school supply chain, the relationship took on a new dimension.
"We send everything you can think of that would be in a classroom except a fire extinguisher. We even send a whiteboard. No one could compete on a logistics basis with UPS."
Scott Balwinski, Senior Vice President of Operations, K12, Inc.
As Washington, DC-based K12 grew, they quickly realized the logistics expertise of their lean, in-house staff and small outsourced partners was being seriously tested. Fast outgrowing its own infrastructure, K12 knew that to provide a world-class education for students, it needed a world-class logistics and returns solution. So they looked for a company with the right operational excellence, flexibility and capacity, that could fully manage distribution and delivery while flexibly scaling operations up or down, as needed.
UPS knew a K12 education stood equally with traditional classroom methods, so managing logistics costs and keeping overhead low couldn't mean cutting corners. It meant finding innovative ways to more efficiently keep the cost of education low. With an unsparing focus on fast, reliable fulfillment, UPS took over most of K12's supply chain, including warehousing, kitting, distribution, returns and redeployment. The order-consolidation process was redesigned, a centrally located warehouse in Elizabethtown, KY was provided and a West Coast distribution operation was later added. Dots were connected between K12's forward and reverse logistics operations and UPS assumed the computer returns process, including data security and technical services. High priority was placed on redeployment of recovered assets, a critical part of the K12 business model. And the reverse logistics solution supported sustainability, an enduring value for both companies.
At first, UPS teams packed and sent 12,000 kits a day, soon upgrading to 19,000 daily kits. The single warehousing and distribution solution quickly cut back-office cost and complexity. With UPS controlling inventory, K12 no longer had to spend 40 hours a week monitoring chain of custody and solving supply chain issues. The new solution not only drove out waste and cost, it improved K12's operational credibility with colleagues and customers. Which helped K12 pay more attention to improving education.
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