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Visit TGI at the 2009 STAFDA Technology and Consultants Fair

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 by Alex Smith

On November 9, 2009, TGI will be attending the 2009 STAFDA Technology and Consultants Fair. TGI representatives will be on hand to showcase TGI’s Enterprise 21 ERP software at Table 6. Conference attendees may arrange for a personalized demonstration of Enterprise 21 while at the STAFDA technology fair. The fair offers a great opportunity for organizations in the specialty tools and fasteners industry to see the latest in business management software technology and gain an understanding of the many benefits a distribution organization can derive from integrated distribution software solutions.

Given such an opportunity, business executives and IT professionals in the tools and fasteners industry should come to the STAFDA Technology and Consultants Fair armed with key questions for software vendors that pertain to their unique industry requirements. Some examples of key questions for software vendors who supply solutions for the tools and fasteners industry include:

  1. What does the software system offer in terms of managing pricing methodologies, promotions, and allowances?
  2. What types of inventory management and replenishment methodologies does the software offer?
  3. Does the system include integrated RF and barcode technology to operate the warehouse in a paperless environment?
  4. Does the software offer integrated procurement functionality that provides RFQ processing, vendor performance management, designation  of a preferred supplier for a given item, accounting for supplier lead times, etc.?
  5. Does the software provide integrated e-Commerce functionality for Internet-based orders?
  6. Does the software interface with EDI translations?
  7. Does the software interface with UPS, FedEx, and LTL shipment manifesting systems concurrently?
  8. Does the software offer both available and capable to promise order management functionality?
  9. Does the software account for landed costs, import duties, drayage charges, etc. for imported items?
  10. Does the software offer MRP/DRP functionality?
  11. Does the software provide functionality for kitting, assembly, light manufacturing, and other value-added services?
  12. Does the software offer integrated financial management?
  13. Does the software feature business intelligence, analytics, and reporting functionality with drill-down capabilities?

While these are just some of the many questions for software vendors, they should provide a good basis for discussion in limited time while at the 2009 STAFDA Technology and Consultants Fair. If you plan on attending the 2009 STAFDA Technology and Consultants fair and would like to schedule a demonstration of TGI’s Enterprise 21 software, please click here to complete TGI’s 2009 STAFDA registration form.


Wholesale Distribution Software: Big Productivity Gains Await Distributors Who Ship Small Package Deliveries

Monday, October 19th, 2009 by admin

Many of the wholesale distributors with whom we work have common characteristics when we first become acquainted with each other.  Many are selling items which can be packed and shipped via small package delivery services.  And, most of these distributors are performing their picking operations via paper-based print tickets on a one-to-one ratio – one sales order equals one pick ticket.

Some of the biggest operational efficiencies these distributors can gain from wholesale distribution software solutions like TGI’s Enterprise 21 come from combining and performing picking for multiple orders concurrently.  Within Enterprise 21, this functionality is called cart picking.

Enterprise 21 collects a series of picks for various sales orders based on the business rules a given organization defines within the system.  Once a pick is generated, Enterprise 21 leads the given warehouse operations person through the facility in an optimized path to minimize transit time between picks.  This can be done with either paper-based or paperless picking.

When cart picking is combined with barcode scanning, the Enterprise 21 system prompts the picker to pick a given quantity of an item from a specified bin location and to place that item in a specific tote or location on their picking cart.  When the first item is being picked, the picker scans the item and an associated tote location on the picking cart.  At this point, the system knows that a given order’s picks are associated with that specific cart location.  When the picker is prompted to pick the next item, if it is associated with this same order, they are prompted to place it in this same tote location.  Should they be picking an item for a second order, however, they would be prompted to scan a second cart location to be associated with the second order.

The system will continue to prompt the picker to place items into an associated tote location or to select a new location for the next order being picked.  Should the picker attempt to scan and place an item associated with one order into a cart location associated with a different order, the system will alert them that this is not the correct location for this order and once again prompt them with the correct cart location.  Once all the associated picks for the given picker-cart combination are finished, the picker would take the cart to the packing location.

Next, Enterprise 21 would prompt the packer as to which specific standard carton sizes should be selected for use for a given sales order shipment and which items should be placed in each given box.  The system would generate a carton label for each box.  As the packer scans the items into the given cartons, the system would confirm that the items were in fact associated with the specific order shipment being created.  As part of the packing process, Enterprise 21 also generates the desired shipping paperwork including packing slips and pro forma invoices.

Once the packing process has been completed and the cartons are sealed, the boxes would then be handed off to the shipping department.  Shipping would then run the boxes through the appropriate shipment manifesting systems (i.e., UPS, FedEx, etc.) and ship the various boxes.  Enterprise 21 is fully-integrated with these shipment manifesting systems, so the order status would be updated immediately upon shipment.  Enterprise 21 also generates all appropriate customer transactions resulting from the shipping process including delivery of an advanced shipping notification (ASN) in the customer’s preferred format and method of delivery (fax, email, or EDI).

The combination of Enterprise 21’s fully-integrated warehouse management system functionality when used in conjunction with RF/barcode-enabled scanning technology, including cart picking and wireless warehouse management capabilities, can lead to substantial improvements in warehouse operational efficiencies while minimizing shipping errors.


Process Manufacturing: Managing Batch Processing and Fill Lines

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by admin

Many process manufacturers have operations where they will produce a common product that is then packaged into a variety of containers for various customers.  These manufacturers will frequently produce this common product via a batch process.  This formulation produced may be an intermediate that then gets combined with other items to produce finished goods, or it may itself be a finished good awaiting packaging operations.

After the batch is produced, the product can either be moved immediately to filling operations or placed in drums and stored in the warehouse for some period of time.  Once the formula is in the filling operation, finished goods are produced in various sized containers with associated product labeling to meet customer demands.

So, how does Enterprise 21’s process manufacturing software functionality enable these batch process manufacturers to perform their jobs efficiently?  First, one can establish a scalable batch formula that consists of the various ingredients needed to produce the intermediate formulation.  The formulation can be setup as a recipe, where the ingredients and associated process instructions are combined in an order of operations to produce the desired output.  Where necessary, the recipe can also have electronic signatures required for individuals to sign off at various checkpoints during the process for compliance and quality assurance purposes.

The formulation may have certain ingredients that are generally over consumed as part of the production process.  Let’s say that a given production process may require a standard of 100 pounds of a given ingredient to produce a given batch size; however, if that process is not 100% efficient, the system can enable the planning of consumption of more than 100 pounds of that ingredient – say 102%, or 102 pounds of that ingredient for the given batch size in consideration.  In this situation, Enterprise 21’s yielding functionality within the formulation is used in the procurement and production staging processes to account for the fact that 102 pounds of the given ingredient are needed to perform the given operation.

Once the intermediate formulation is produced, there may be a period of time necessary for cooling required before the output can be packaged into a drum or moved to the filling operations.  In this case, one can build queue time into the end of the given production routing step so the associated cooling time is accounted for prior to scheduling and ultimate performance of that next operation.  This is done within Enterprise 21’s manufacturing routing functionality.

Finally, the filling operations can be scheduled as a series of work orders to produce the ultimate finished goods.  The bills of material for the various finished goods would, at a minimum, be comprised of the intermediate formulation produced as described above, the appropriate container for the given product, and its associated label.

In addition to the functionality described above, Enterprise 21 also manages product costing – average, standard, LIFO, or FIFO – on a product-by-product basis, all of the associated inventory and warehouse transactions including complete womb-to-tomb lot traceability to support recall management, and all associated financial accounting transactions in a real-time, fully-integrated system.


Implementing on a Time Crunch

Thursday, October 1st, 2009 by Alex Smith

With the beginning of 2009’s fourth quarter starting today, companies of all sizes find themselves in a hurry to complete their ERP software evaluation process, begin software implementation, and prepare their organizations for initial system go-live on the first Monday of 2010. ERP system implementation is a time consuming task for any organization. Implementation requires a coordinated effort on the part of both the software provider and the manufacturer’s or distributor’s implementation project team leaders. Given the sophisticated, complex nature of ERP systems, there are two relatively easy ways in which an organization can implement a new ERP solution before the end of 2009 and be in a position to go-live January 2010.

Prepare your data. One of the most tedious, time consuming activities that occurs during the ERP implementation process is data migration. Companies need to have their data prepared in a computer-readable file format to import their data into their newly selected ERP system. Data accuracy and integrity is critical to the ERP solution’s performance both before and after production go-live. By having data such as GL accounts, customers, products, parts/ingredients, vendors, etc. prepared in a CSV file or other computer-readable format, companies can gain significant time and cost savings during the data migration process as opposed to manual data entry or other highly-inefficient migration processes.

Use the software as designed. Assuming the organization has made the right software selection as a result of their evaluation process, companies should spend little time worrying about miscellaneous modifications that are not critical to initial production go-live. If the organization has conducted a thorough software evaluation and performed a quantitative analysis of various software suppliers and solutions, its ultimate final software decision should have resulted in a software package that meets the vast majority of their business needs with standard, “out-of-the-box” functionality. If the selected software solution does not meet one of the organization’s critical software requirements, it probably wasn’t the right software solution in the first place. In regards to an expedited software implementation, companies should adopt a 90/10 rule, ensuring that 90% of the organization’s software requirements can be met with standard functionality, with the remaining 10% left to focus on minor, non-critical software requirements and enhancements in the first few months following go-live.

By preparing data for migration and using the software as designed, organizations should be ready for a swift implementation and go-live date in early January 2010.