Category Archives: Industry News

PathGuide and QubeVu Power Cascade Orthopedic Supply’s Award at PARCEL Forum 2016!

PathGuide is proud to announce that our customer, Cascade Orthopedic Supply, has won PARCEL Forum’s prestigious 2016 Game Changer Award. The award, which was presented to Cascade on September 13th at this year’s show in Dallas, Texas, recognized the company’s successful deployment of PathGuide’s Latitude Manifest and Shipping System together with QubeVu‘s DimStation dimensioning solution.

The combined solution from PathGuide and QubeVu provides Cascade with certified dimensions of any object, regardless of shape. This is important for Cascade, as it has many irregularly-shaped items that previously caused a lot of costly void space using traditional shipping practices. With most carriers now calculating shipping costs based on an item’s weight and size, Cascade turned to PathGuide and QubeVu for a seamless solution that automatically selects the most economical carrier. This system not only saves Cascade and its customers money, it also helps Cascade provide value-add services online, such as stock availability and accurate shipping costs.

This quote from Jeff Collins, president of Cascade Orthopedic Supply, says it all. “Integrating QubeVu into our Latitude WMS has given us a phenomenal boost in operations here at Cascade. We use the solution from the moment we receive inbound goods, and follow each item throughout the warehouse until it gets shipped. Now that it has been successfully deployed in our U.S. operations, the next thing on our list is to leverage PathGuide and QubeVu at OrtoPed ULC in Canada, as well. We couldn’t be happier with the way that PathGuide’s Latitude integrates with QubeVu, giving us and our customers useful information about our stock that helps us to improve customer service and satisfaction, lower costs, and drive our business.”

Congratulations to the Cascade team!

Douglas Hunter Elected Chairman of PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board

A hearty welcome aboard to Douglas Hunter, who was elected chairman of the Latitude Advisory Board (LAB) at our Latitude User Conference in May. Douglas is the operations manager at Colorado-based Eldorado Trading Company, where he oversaw the Latitude WMS rollout at its distribution facility.  Since then, he has been an active member of the Latitude Advisory Board. He’s a strong advocate for using technologies to solve warehouse problems and for continuously improving processes. In fact, we profiled Doug as our first warehouse champion many years ago. We’re excited to work more closely with him as he brings a new voice and energy to the LAB.

Roy Bragg will be stepping down as chairman after several years of service but will remain active as a board member. Roy is VP of operations at Canadian electronics distributor EB Horsman & Son and has been a great guiding voice for the board. Many thanks to Roy for his leadership during a critical growth period and we look forward to more of his keen insight for Latitude as we work to make the product even better.

The LAB is a user-led group of Latitude enthusiasts based in the U.S. and Canada. They give PathGuide feedback based on their experiences gained from working with Latitude WMS in their warehouses and distribution centers. Insight from the board directly shapes PathGuide’s training programs and product enhancements, and members often serve as beta testers for software updates. These members represent a wide range of industries. For more about the LAB and a list of current members, look here.

PathGuide Technologies Offers Inbound Transportation Management Module

ITM’s Advanced Features Expand Latitude’s Receiving Capabilities, Allowing Users to Schedule Incoming Freight and Track Carrier Performance

PathGuide Technologies just announced the availability of a new inbound transportation and dock scheduling module that integrates seamlessly with the company’s Latitude WMS. Developed in conjunction with several Latitude users, the Inbound Transportation Management module provides dashboards and other tools that make it easy to automate inbound delivery scheduling and record-keeping for external carriers, while helping to better assign staff and equipment when and where they are needed.

“Inbound transportation management is not something that is often requested,” said Andrew Weith, founder of ASW Global Consulting, a software consulting business that specializes in ERP and WMS technologies. “Most folks don’t yet have an understanding of the gains to be found by managing this part of the warehouse process.”

After receiving requests from existing customers to integrate delivery management capabilities into Latitude, PathGuide discovered that most small and medium-sized warehouses currently use old-school whiteboards, basic spreadsheets or calendars to track and manage incoming deliveries.

“This Inbound Transportation Management module for Latitude isn’t just an electronic whiteboard to assign a dock door for a truck,” said Greg Laycock, vice-president of research and development at PathGuide. “What makes this module so valuable is the powerful metrics that give managers the ability to plan staffing levels, evaluate inbound carriers and reduce errors in receiving. Latitude already handles receiving extremely well, so extending this expertise into inbound transportation allows our customers to manage time, space, people and vendors much more effectively.”

End users can access and update the delivery schedule through an RF terminal or Latitude’s web interface using the new module. They can easily see which trucks have arrived, which are being unloaded, and which deliveries have been completed. The system stores data on all deliveries, giving management documentation and evidence of any issues. For example, if an inbound carrier consistently arrives late or delivers damaged shipments, the distributor now has an accurate record of those incidents and can use the information to bring it to the carrier’s attention, negotiate a better price or find another carrier.

The Inbound Transportation Management module has completed beta testing and is now in general availability. It’s just the latest of several advanced features for Latitude WMS, such as voice picking and vendor managed inventory. All of these modules are designed specifically for Latitude WMS. For more information about this module or any of PathGuide’s products, please contact PathGuide at clientservices@pathguide.com or call +1-888-627-9797.

 

New Technology and Old Business Smarts – MODEX 2016

The PathGuide team was at MODEX 2016 from April 4-7, networking, learning from the experts and checking out the latest in supply chain technology. Here are some of the highlights.

Technology

Automation, automation, automation. This year’s show focused heavily on robotics (automated guided vehicles in particular), shuttle systems, advances in real-time processing and optimization, and other solutions aimed at e-Commerce fulfillment. Not all are at the stage where they are commercially viable for distributors, so it will be very interesting to see how they evolve in the next few years.

Keynote Speaker

Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank fame was one of several keynote speakers. He gave an excellent presentation on business management called “Lessons from a Dragon,” which gives you an idea of how ruthless his advice can be. Here are his tips for being a successful manager:

  1. Employees are your most valuable asset, but not your friends.
  2. Maintain a clear line of command – and make it clear who’s running the show.
  3. Always be accessible, it shows that you’re invested in people’s success and you’ll be respected for it.
  4. Delegate, make sure both parties understand the goal, then get out of the way.
  5. Don’t procrastinate. Great leaders understand this.
  6. Never pass the buck. It’s your problem if you can’t accept responsibility.
  7. Customer service always trumps price.
  8. Use technology as a weapon.
  9. The boss doesn’t always make the most money.
  10. Business is war, there are winners and losers. Always think globally, even if you’re a small business.

Thanks to everyone who came to meet us in person. Looking forward to seeing you again next year, or earlier at our own Latitude User Conference next month!

Competing With Giants

This feature article from the latest issue of Inbound Logistics profiles several small and medium-sized businesses that are using information technology to stay competitive with industry giants. It’s a good read and highlights an important fact about the modern warehouse industry. These days, every distributor is competing with worldwide e-commerce giants like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba and Snapdeal. How can small and medium-sized businesses remain competitive without the resources of these huge companies? Customer service is one big differentiator, but there are also many ways that even small companies can use information technology strategically to achieve similar levels of speed, efficiency and flexibility as their bigger peers.

Here are some PathGuide customers who implemented Latitude WMS to solve specific problems and put themselves on even footing with larger industry competitors.

HUB Industrial Supply keeps up with e-retailers like Amazon and Fastenal by focusing on exceptional customer service and just-in-time delivery. After several years of strong growth, executives were concerned that HUB couldn’t keep using small-company processes as it grew into a medium-sized company. HUB chose Latitude to “future-proof” its warehouse, knowing that the WMS would easily scale with them.

Fisheries Supply, located in Seattle, Washington, relies on the local maritime industry for much of its business. They used some of the features in Latitude WMS to build its own will-call system that can have orders ready in as little as 15 minutes. Latitude WMS automatically prioritizes these orders for picking and sends the customer a text message when the order is ready. Fisheries Supply has built a loyal following among local mechanics and boat owners who depend upon this system for its quick turnaround.

One of the specific goals that Jensen Distribution Services had for implementing a WMS was to reduce training time for new employees. By replacing an outdated paper-based receiving process with a paperless one and implementing hands-free voice picking, Jensen was able to reduce weeks of training down to a matter of days, and decreased picking errors by 95%.

C-A-L Ranch, a chain of farm and ranch supply stores, had seasonal spikes in product demand that turned the distribution center floor into a bottleneck. Hiring seasonal labor was not a feasible solution, so Latitude WMS helped C-A-L Ranch be more productive with the same number of workers and get through busy periods without product piling up in the distribution center.

The Latitude User Conference is Just Around the Corner!

There’s less than 4 weeks to take advantage of early bird rates for the 2016 Latitude User Conference. This year’s LUC is May 22-24 in sunny San Diego.  Additional discounts  are available when you register more than 3 people from your company – so bring a crowd!

Three Levels Deep

Our conference is designed for everyone, and that’s why we’re encouraging “Three Levels Deep”. Bring people who represent different areas of your operation. Employees can directly apply the knowledge and practical techniques they learn at the conference to their jobs back home.

Why Attend?

  • Warehouse Managers: We looked at areas specific to warehouse managers’ daily processes to design breakout sessions tailored to their needs. Sessions like Replenishment: Stay Stoked Because You’re Stocked and Dock Wars: Scheduling Inbound Deliveries will inspire new techniques to drive success across your warehouse teams.
  • Corporate Executives: Network with other executives, exchange ideas about supply chain excellence and learn how Latitude WMS can help inspire innovation and deliver better customer service as the supply chain continues to evolve. Sessions for executives include Motivation by Metrics, Leveraging Latitude WMS for ROI in Your Operations and Latitude WMS for Your Smaller Facilities.
  • Warehouse Workers: You’re the ones using Latitude every day, so the more you know – the better. Hands-on sessions for warehouse workers include Make an RF “Easy Button” With Task Definitions, Be in the Know With Automatic Alerts and Labels Made Easy.
  • IT Pros: Learn about Latitude’s evolving tool set and programmable features while networking with other field experts. Sessions for IT Pros include What’s Your IT IQ?, WMS & LMS Release Highlights, Metrics: A Window into Your Warehouse, and Latitude Confidential: Next Level Tips & Tricks.
  • New & Experienced Users and Prospects: If you’re new to Latitude or still considering a WMS upgrade, we will have sessions that introduce you to basic Latitude WMS features like Cycle Count Planning: Cure Your PI Pain, Inbound Transportation: Control When Trucks Bump Your Dock and PathGuide’s SOS (Spotlight On Support). More importantly, you will have plenty of opportunities to get realistic feedback and advice from current Latitude WMS users. Come with questions and leave with answers!

A sincere thank you to Honeywell and the QubeVu team from Postea, our Platinum Level Sponsors, for helping to make this year’s conference a success!

Be sure to join Honeywell to learn what they are doing about the most important trends and forces changing the landscape of today’s supply chain. You’ll want to make time for Postea’s presentation to discover why dimensioning solutions make sense as the evolution in materials handling, e-Commerce and shipping markets continues to create opportunities for growth.

To see the full agenda or learn more about the 2016 Latitude User Conference, click here. To register, click here. See you in San Diego!

Phased Rollout Helps Smooth the Transition to Latitude WMS for Jensen Distribution Services

Jensen Distribution Services, a full-line wholesale hardware distributor operating in 11 western states, came to PathGuide in 2008 with a very specific set of goals. The company was strong in areas like picking, but needed to improve warehouse processes in receiving, order accuracy and training time for new employees. They needed a WMS that would improve trouble spots without interfering with productivity in other areas of the facility. The PathGuide implementation team, always ready for a challenge, got to work.

Latitude WMS was rolled out in stages, starting with receiving. This approach is common for new WMS deployments, and it allowed Jensen to adjust to each change without affecting other workflows. Implementation went forward on schedule and Jensen quickly began to see positive results in receiving speeds, organization and accuracy. Employee productivity increased and could now be tracked paper-free, using Latitude’s built-in employee metrics. As Jensen switched on Latitude’s functionality in other areas of its warehouse, it started seeing even more benefits.

Errors Dropped 95%

Jensen doesn’t offer unique products, so they compete for customers by offering exceptional customer service. Latitude helped Jensen go from a one percent error rate to 0.05 percent, which had a tremendous positive impact on customer relations. Regular updates to Latitude provide incremental improvements in accuracy each year.

Less Time Wasted on Training

Latitude also reduced the time required to train new employees and decreased their reliance on tribal knowledge. Under the old paper-based receiving system, it took new employees three to six weeks to become proficient and productive. With Latitude, it takes just days, prompting Jensen’s distribution center manager, Dennis Schutz, to say that he “never wanted to go back to paper.”

The phased rollout worked. Jensen saw great improvements in all of the areas where it wanted to improve, without significant disruption to the rest of the warehouse. In the words of Landon Horton, director of operations, “Latitude has really let us refine our business through major productivity and accuracy gains over the years. The exceptional customer service and engineering support offered by PathGuide made them an ideal technology partner, and we have total faith in their commitment to the long-term success of our business.”

Click here to see a short video highlighting the transformation to virtually error-free operations at Jensen Distribution Services.

New in Latitude WMS: Inbound Transportation Management

At PathGuide, we’re constantly talking with our customers and working on new ways to help them get the most out of their Latitude WMS deployments. One big request is to have more control over scheduling inbound freight. How long does it take to unload deliveries? Are vendors coming in late, on time or early? Are trucks idling for extended periods while waiting for bays to open up? Many warehouses and DCs schedule deliveries using an Excel spreadsheet or a whiteboard – or they just “wing it” and hope that a dock door will be free when a truck arrives. PathGuide knew we could help them do better.

So, we’re pleased to announce that a powerful new Inbound Transportation Management (ITM) Module will be available in April. This module will help streamline deliveries and give warehouse managers much more control to manage the delivery process. Using an intuitive web-based dashboard, the new ITM Module makes it easy to assign specific times and bays for deliveries and ensure that the right equipment and manpower is ready for unloading (i.e., pallet loaded vs. floor loaded). Once the shipment arrives, employees can check the trucks in and out and attach notes to each delivery, all from the web browser or an RF hand-held computer.

The ITM Module will also keep track of a variety of metrics automatically, such as how long individual employees spend unloading a certain kind of delivery. This is a great tool for warehouse managers who need to forecast and assign labor each day.

Having a pre-arranged appointment also means that trucks won’t arrive at the same time and cause a bottleneck. If a truck arrives outside of its scheduled 20-minute arrival window, it will be flagged as ‘late’ or ‘early’ – and warehouse employees can enter additional notes if the products arrive damaged in any way. This insight gives managers vendor performance reporting tools to help in negotiating future business.

We’re proud of the unique features that this brings to the WMS industry, and we hope that it will help many of our customers streamline their inbound transportation processes.

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.