HOJ Engineering and Sales Inc.

HOJ Engineering picHOJ Engineering’s WarehouseOS™ system improves picking and packing operations while ditching the scanner gun.
By Jim Harris

For many businesses, processing and shipping a high volume of small customer orders can prove challenging.

“The trend in the industry is toward larger volumes but in lower quantities – even to the point where you’re picking one item at a time for individual customers,” says Tim Hoj, CEO of HOJ Engineering and Sales Inc., a Salt Lake City-based material handling solutions provider. “A lot of traditional warehouse models aren’t equipped to handle that volume of orders.”

Enabling small- to medium-sized warehouses to process many small orders is what HOJ Engineering and Sales had in mind when it patented WarehouseOS (WOS) five years ago. WOS is a software platform that helps ecommerce business best manage their warehouse operations.

The platform, which is available through Apple’s iTunes store and runs on iPads, operates both in a cloud environment or as a resident server environment. WOS integrates with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to distribute customer orders directly to warehouses.

Instead of using radio frequency (RF) scanner guns to capture barcode information, the WOS system uses inexpensive Bluetooth scanner devices that are paired to an iPad. After an item is scanned, information about where the item is located in the warehouse is displayed.

In addition to picking, the WOS system also manages common warehouse processes such as receiving, inventory management, cycle count, verification and packing. These functions all appear as icons within the program. HOJ box

Warehouse operators can purchase or use their own iPads to run the software. Operators also provide their owns scanners. “This is unique in that it is a packaged product – everyone gets the same software,” Hoj says. “This system integrates well with ecommerce shopping carts and systems, and is a great fit for any client who is selling products online.”

WOS is in place in warehouses ranging in size from 10,000 square feet to as large as 300,000 square feet. “Our sweet spot is in a warehouse with 10 to 15 people that handles a large ecommerce fulfillment,” he adds.

The system can be used either as a standalone system or in conjunction with an existing warehouse management system (WMS). Several large warehouse operations use WOS in the latter manner for ecommerce fulfillment. “We manage a sector of business for these companies where traditional warehouse management systems don’t do well,” Hoj says. “We can deploy into a variety of environments to help our customers.”

Watching Customers Succeed

The idea for WOS came from HOJ Engineering’s consulting team in response to the concerns of several of the company’s customers.

Consulting services are at the core of HOJ Engineering’s offerings. Founded by Tim Hoj’s father, Henning Hoj, in 1964, the company offers material-handling solutions and products including forklifts, conveyors, cranes, matting, work stations, carts, safety netting, racking systems, shelving and process controls. The company also offers services including forklift, conveyor and aerial work platform training.

The company sells equipment from a number of different vendors including Nissan Forklifts and Hytrol Conveyor Co., each of which the company has worked with for decades.

“Our consulting team is our first level of contact with our customers,” Tim Hoj says. “After our consulting team helps clients find a way to improve their processes, our sales group will put packages together.”

HOJ Engineering’s customers include manufacturers and warehouse operators throughout its home state of Utah as well as throughout the United States and internationally. The company’s largest client base is in service distribution and online order fulfillment. HOJ Engineering also provides systems and services to third-party logistics providers who maintain warehouses and distribution centers for manufacturers. 

“We’re proud to see our customers succeed by employing our tools to lower their costs and gain efficiencies that help them ship more products,” Hoj says.

Coming Together

HOJ Engineering recently enhanced its ability to help its customers when it consolidated its operations into a single, 50,000-square-foot facility in Salt Lake City.

The new headquarters, which opened in January, combines three parts departments that were previously located on the same street, but in different buildings. The new office also creates unity among employees through an open floor plan that includes stand-up ergonomic desks.

“This office helps unify the whole brand and creates a central place for employees and customers,” Hoj says.

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