Category Archives: Customers

WES and WCS Are Good, But They’re No WMS

The three types of warehouse software (WMS, WES and WCS) are starting to overlap in functionality, at least that’s the thesis of an article I read earlier this month in DC Velocity. Titled “Blurred Lines: WMS vs. WCS vs. WES,” it argues that these three warehouse systems have developed to a point where many of their major functions overlap and it’s difficult for buyers to decide exactly what they need.

While WCS and WES have certainly come a long way in the past few years, a high-quality WMS is still the best option to track and control the movement and storage of materials within the warehouse.

A high-quality WMS will provide benefits in the following areas:

  • Order accuracy
  • Worker efficiency
  • Overall speed of orders
  • Reporting and KPIs
  • Individual employee metrics
  • Warehouse organization

While a WES will provide some functionality in voice picking, mobile scanner integration, inventory management and labor management, it was not designed to perform as a WMS and should not be used as a replacement. If you need a WMS, buy a WMS. Don’t expect a WCS or WES to deliver functionality that it was not designed for.

This sounds simple in theory, but it gets more complicated in practice because not every company shopping for software knows what it needs. Before researching a new warehouse system, companies evaluate current systems to identify both strengths and weaknesses. Next, they should identify what areas they want to improve. Finally, they should make a list of the functions that will help them achieve those goals. By approaching the buying process with a clear understanding of what each type of software can deliver, they can see the marketing pitch for what it is and stay focused on getting a solution that will best fit their needs.

About the Author: Eric Allais, president and CEO of PathGuide Technologies, Inc., has over 30 years of experience in marketing, product management and sector analysis in the automated data collection industry, including warehouse management practices in wholesale distribution. Contact him at eric@pathguide.com.

Dr.’s Gerry Faust and David Allais to Keynote PathGuide’s 2016 Latitude User Conference

It is my great pleasure to announce that Gerry Faust, Ph.D. and David Allais, Ph.D. will deliver the two keynote addresses at the 2016 Latitude User Conference in May.

Faust is a highly accomplished business consultant and motivational speaker who has been empowering and entertaining audiences for 30 years. His speeches help people understand the power and challenges of an organization’s culture, identify its key aspects and understand the role each person plays in its formation. He is hilariously funny, extremely smart, and his speeches deliver real business value. Past clients have said that Faust “provides stimulating ideas with practical approaches,” is a “consummate presenter,” and a “guy who truly cares about helping businesses succeed.”

His program will explain the true purpose for organizations and outline the four roles that managers and leaders must embrace to achieve short and long term success. In a presentation tailored to the needs of the warehouse and distribution industries, Gerry Faust will discuss the biggest reason why more organizations never solve their problems, and the key role teamwork plays in achieving organizational goals.

Allais is an internationally recognized expert and inventor in the fields of bar coding, automatic identification and data capture. As former president and CEO of Washington-based Intermec, Inc. (now part of Honeywell), he built the company from a small start-up into the leading manufacturer of bar code scanning and printing equipment. Leaving Intermec after 19 years, Allais founded PathGuide Technologies, a Washington-based developer of warehouse management systems for distributors.

PathGuide is thrilled to have Faust and Allais as our keynote speakers. Mark your calendars for May 22-24, this is one conference you won’t want to miss!

Faust’s keynote is scheduled Monday, May 23 at 8:45 a.m. and Allais’s keynote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 24 at 8:30 a.m.

Six Implementation Questions Customers Always Ask

Purchasing a WMS is a business investment that PathGuide customers take very seriously. Any warehouse upgrade involves a number of necessary changes to work processes, and a WMS is no exception. Customers can sometimes become intimidated if they get too caught up worrying about the implementation and assuming that these changes will be difficult.

But that’s simply not the case. With the proper training and staff buy-in, a WMS install doesn’t need to be an arduous process. To address some of the most common concerns, here is a list of popular questions from new WMS customers, and how we answer them:

  • How long is this going to take? It can take anywhere from four to nine months, depending on the warehouse’s specifics and how well the company has prepared for a rollout. An internal champion who works closely with us for troubleshooting and scheduled employee training can help a new customer go live much more quickly.
  • How will Latitude interface with our business system? Will we have to change anything? Probably not. Latitude integrates with all major ERP systems including SAP, Oracle, Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, and Infor.
  • How do we set up a RF network in our warehouse? How many access points will we need? What about better servers or higher network speeds? A PathGuide engineer will visit a new customer’s warehouse and do a complete walkthrough to determine exactly how the customer operates and what its needs are. They will handle technical problems like this.
  • How does training take place? We usually bring customer representatives to our Seattle office and let them practice with Latitude in our mock “warehouse” training room. We’ll also send PathGuide engineers to conduct on-site trainings, and we encourage customers to follow up with their own hands-on training.
  • Can we get Latitude to do _______? The answer is almost always yes. Latitude is highly customizable and we can usually modify it to fit the customer’s exact needs.
  • Can we get documentation or checklists for all of this? Of course! We want to make the tools in Latitude WMS as easy to use and accessible as possible.

Implementation can seem intimidating if you look at it in its entirety, but it isn’t as difficult as most people believe at first. That’s why it’s our job to break the process down into manageable chunks and help our customers get through the implementation one step at a time. This personal touch helps our customers feels more secure and leads to a smoother rollout – and that’s better for everyone.

PathGuide Finishes 2015 Strong with Four New Customers!

PathGuide wrapped up a great 2015 by adding four new customers in December. Here’s an introduction to some of the new distributor companies that will be deploying Latitude WMS across their operations in the coming months.

  • Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies  Centinela is a family-owned feed and pet store chain with fifteen locations across southern California. It offers pet supplies and related services such as dog training, grooming and vaccination. It has a long and colorful history in Torrance and Los Angeles; in fact, one of its older stores was a historical landmark In Barnes City before the area became a part of L.A.
  • Engineered Specialty Products Located in Kennesaw, Georgia, ESP Inc. provides its customers with high-quality gauges, thermometers, instruments and other sensors. We’re happy to be working with another growing industrial products distributor.
  • Coastal Farm and Ranch  Coastal Farm and Ranch’s distribution center serves 15 stores in the Pacific Northwest from its home base in Albany, Oregon. Part of the Mid-States Group, the company specializes in outdoor products, workwear, livestock feed, tools and gear for farm and ranch communities.
  • Devil Mountain Nursery One of our more unique customers, Devil Mountain Nursery is a plant wholesaler in San Ramon, CA. It offers a wide variety of materials to local landscapers and gardeners, including drought-resistant plant species. We’re looking forward to helping the company with some of the unique challenges involved in tracking and shipping live plants.

These businesses show the breadth of PathGuide’s continuing growth and have one thing in common: a commitment to quality customer service. We look forward to helping each one of these operations achieve their fullest potential in 2016!

PathGuide’s Latitude WMS Travels the Globe

PathGuide recently discussed its business growth in Canada, but did you know that the sales boundaries for the Latitude warehouse management system stretch to other parts of the globe?

As an example, Latitude has been deployed in Panama since 2009.  It was selected for use by Rodelag S.A., a well-known retail chain with more than 500 employees that services the entire country. Rodelag has been a trusted name in Panama since 1950 when two prominent families, the Romeros and the La Guardias, joined forces to bring a Sears-like department store to the Chiriqui Province.  Today, Rodelag offers everything from motorbikes to clothing in branch storefronts found in small towns such as Chitre as well as in the capital of Panama City.

Panama is experiencing explosive economic growth.  Over the past decade, it has been one of the fastest growing economies worldwide, and dominates the growth of its neighbors in Central America.  Average annual growth was 7.2 percent between 2001 and 2013, more than double the regional average.  It’s estimated that its growth in 2015 will remain a respectable 6.2 percent.

Panama’s economic climate has enticed other retailers to enter the market.  So how does an older, stable company like Rodelag continue to remain relevant to its customers in such a fast-growing environment?  By adding technologies such as PathGuide’s Latitude Warehouse Management Software.  Latitude helped it re-engineer its warehouse and distribution operations, facilitating better customer service and more efficient inventory management.  The customer service element is particularly important in Panama, which does not have a long history of retail customer loyalty; for generations, residents have routinely shopped more than one retailer to compare prices.  A WMS such as Latitude helps Rodelag ensure that the most needed items are in stock at its facilities, engendering customer satisfaction and repeat sales.

Voice-controlled WMS Primes Distribution Centers for Growth

Voice-controlled warehouse management system (WMS) applications have rapidly matured into a proven solution for improving the speed and accuracy of processes within distribution center and warehouse operations. These applications are most commonly associated with picking and order selection, however, many warehouses that use voice picking have also adapted it for other functions such as receiving, put-away, stock replenishment, truck loading, returns and cycle counting.

Why is voice such a valuable tool in the warehouse? The biggest reason is because voice-controlled applications allow warehouse workers to use both hands while picking, packing, and shipping items – rather than needing one hand to scan barcodes and other labels. In the case of Latitude WMS users, the system creates an efficient order of tasks, and uses simple instructions to guide workers to pick and pull relevant items.

Compared to traditional warehouse processes using pen and paper or handheld computers and barcode scanning, a voice picking system creates a hands-free, heads-up user workflow. In the case of Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale distributor serving 11 western states, voice-controlled processes were slowly rolled out using Latitude after it was first deployed in 2010. Jensen particularly noticed a dramatic improvement when the company moved from batch picking and label picking to a voice-controlled system that allowed workers in the warehouse to go completely hands free.

Jim Hart, senior vice president of operations at Jensen, summed up the benefits of voice. “Quality is huge here at Jensen, so with eCommerce fulfillment transactions growing 80 percent in the past year, Latitude with Vocollect has allowed Jensen to pick a perfect, or a near perfect order. We’re tracking at 0.05 percent errors, compared with 1 percent before our WMS. In fact, this system makes it difficult to make a mistake.”

For more information about how PathGuide’s Latitude WMS integrates with voice, visit our website here.

Fisheries Supply Makes a Splash with New Latitude-Enabled Will Call System

PathGuide customers have a knack for finding unexpectedly innovative uses for their Latitude systems. For example, marine distributor Fisheries Supply uses Latitude WMS to automate a high-speed Will Call order system that can have customer orders ready for pickup in 15 minutes. This gives the company a high value market differentiator that boosts sales and reinforces its commitment to customer service.

Fisheries Supply is a marine distribution center that has operated since 1928 in the heart of Seattle’s maritime industry. It deployed Latitude in 2010 to improve order accuracy, but soon found other ways that the new WMS could improve its business, such as job prioritization. By taking advantage of the WMS’s built-in algorithms, Latitude helps employees determine which item is placed in the picking queue first and ranks each individual order by importance. This allows each team to pick the most urgent items 100 percent of the time. Fisheries Supply then realized that this prioritization feature could benefit Will Call orders as well.

Before deploying Latitude, Fisheries Supply assigned Will Call items to a single picker. If there was a sudden spike in Will Call orders, the picker couldn’t keep up and orders were delayed. Now, with paperless prioritization, the Will Call system looks at the urgency of each order, so it can be picked, packaged and ready for pickup within as little as 15 minutes. Customers, many of whom are local boat owners or mechanics that rely on parts and equipment from Fisheries to do their jobs, can come by and pick up their orders without any lost time or hassle. Latitude allows Fisheries Supply to have those crucial orders ready on schedule every time, which results in happy, loyal customers and repeat business.

To read this article in Industrial Supply, click here.

PathGuide Announces 2016 Latitude User Conference

Popular event introduces the new features to PathGuide’s Latitude WMS, with hands-on training from power users and experts

PathGuide Technologies today announced the opening of early registration for its popular Latitude user conference, to be held May 22-24, 2016 at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego, CA. This event offers educational panels, one-on-one training sessions and panel presentations from knowledgeable Latitude users. Designed for new Latitude users, warehouse managers, C-level executives, IT professionals and prospective clients, the conference also gives attendees a chance to provide feedback to PathGuide’s management team.

PathGuide engineers will demonstrate additional features now available in Latitude, including inbound logistics and proof of delivery.

“We offer hands-on training, education, networking opportunities and critical insight from Latitude experts so that attendees will come away with tools, techniques and strategies they can immediately use to advance their distribution operations,” said Eric Allais, CEO of PathGuide. “Prospective clients will get a “behind the scenes” look at what the Latitude WMS and best warehouse practices can do for their businesses.”

The conference agenda will appeal to all attendees, regardless of the level of user experience. Conference participants can count on hands-on training, panel discussions and training sessions to cover areas such as:

  • Understanding inbound transportation
  • How to drive better performance using metrics
  • Tips and tricks for the advanced Latitude user
  • Route shipping
  • e-Commerce fulfillment
  • Cut item management
  • Creating and editing custom labels
  • Cycle count planning

Early registration discounts, as well as discounts for large groups and companies, are available prior to April 22, 2016. More information and registration options can be found here.

About PathGuide Technologies PathGuide Technologies, Inc., a privately held company founded in 1989, is a leading provider of warehouse management solutions for industrial distributors and regional retailers across the United States, Canada and abroad. PathGuide’s software and services help suppliers increase productivity and order accuracy, improve customer service, lower labor costs and ultimately driving greater profitability. To learn how distributors of all sizes can benefit from improved warehouse management, visit www.pathguide.com.

Can you improve your order picking by 50%?

Oval_MacHead-registration

Our picking rates have increased by 50 percent within the warehouse. We can train anyone to pick in one day. And our inventory accuracy has increased from 65 percent to more than 90 percent. At the same time, we’ve reduced our inventory level by about 10 percent. We have actually decreased out of stocks by 10 percent at the store level. Our goal is to have better than 99 percent in stock.

Read the entire interview at Inc.com

Contact PathGuide at 888-627-9797 to find out how to increase your warehouse picking rates.

Latitude 2011 User Conference

Well, another year, and another successful PathGuide User Conference! The 2011 Latitude User Conference included 72 customer attendees (65 companies!), 2 prospective clients, and 4 partner vendors. Continue reading