Category Archives: Supply Chain

Supply Chains Staying the Course in 2017

The overall outlook for supply chains in 2017 is quite rosy, but let’s identify some specific areas where the industry could or should be headed this year.

Staying the Course

First and foremost, I suspect that we won’t see any significant technological breakthroughs or paradigm shifts in 2017 that will disrupt current best practices in the supply chain. Instead, I’m certain that we’ll see a steady stream of developments that continue to improve existing efficiencies or reduce costs, in addition to a widespread push for vendors to demonstrate added value.

Consumer demands continue to drive technology adoption

E-commerce and the omni-channel experience will continue to capture buyer mindshare over more traditional brick-and-mortar retail models, which are suffering from over-capacity. We can expect long-term customer loyalty to be driven by the so-called unified experience or continuity of experience. Vendors able to consistently deliver perfect shipments will be able to capitalize on this trend. For companies in supply chain logistics, this will require ever-tighter carrier relationships and technologies, which will eventually include the emergence of autonomous commercial freight deliveries. These companies are also likely to deploy GPS-enabled tools that provide up-to-the-minute information about freight location, en route conditions (like temperature), and arrival time estimates.

3PL vendors benefit

These trends may help 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) providers gain significant market share, but may also force some industry consolidation. One differentiating factor will be analytics, and how data can be used to capture pick, pack and ship costs. There is a cost associated with managing warehousing and logistics internally versus outsourcing, so the ability of a company to evaluate the overhead for storing and retrieving inventory efficiently and accurately will remain key in delivering shipments profitably.

Hype, with a grain of salt

While autonomous vehicles and drones are certainly breakthrough technologies, numerous barriers need to be overcome before these become mainstream. These include regulations around safety (or perceived danger) and privacy, as they attempt to coexist with traditional modes of transportation. It is my view that the use of drones for shipping will be confined to very short-range hovers or stops based on battery limitations, FAA altitude restrictions, drone pilot certification and autonomous flight technologies, and clearances limited to line-of-sight flying.

Whatever 2017 brings, it is shaping up to be a busy, productive year in the world of logistics and supply chains. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

About the author

Eric Allais, President and CEO of Washington-based 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.

Guest Post: Latitude with QubeVu for Accurate Dimensioning

Hi everyone. My name is Kim Karvonen. I’m a sales manager at Postea, one of PathGuide’s unofficial technology partners. I had the opportunity to speak with many of you back in May at the PathGuide Latitude User Conference where we demonstrated our QubeVu Dimensioning Solution, working together and integrated to Latitude’s Manifest and Shipping System. PathGuide was kind enough to let us introduce ourselves here and explain what we do and how it might be helpful to your business.

What’s QubeVu?

QubeVu offers the most advanced technology in the dimensioning market. Our solution provides certified dimensions of any object – regardless of shape – in under a second.

Scanning is automatic with no button presses or special alignment required.

Our workstations are available in several small-footprint configurations to fit into any warehouse or distribution center. All are built for rugged industrial use, with no moving parts. In addition, QubeVu takes a picture of every object it scans – indispensable for verification and claim protection. See more details about our products here.

QubeVu is fully compatible with the Latitude WMS and the Latitude Manifest & Shipping System to record dimensions and print accurate shipping materials on the spot. PathGuide and QubeVu engineers can provide a custom solution if you have specific needs.

Why is accurate dimensioning important?

Many major carriers have switched to a dimension-based pricing model, so companies without the ability to automatically measure package dimensions – or those who regularly ship oddly shaped items – will struggle to quote shipping costs to their customers at the time of purchase. Knowing the exact dimensions of SKUs also lets them cut costs by using the correct sized packaging to eliminate void space.

Many of our customers also use QubeVu to verify that their shippers are billing them correctly. In one case, a customer discovered they were being overcharged and used the data from QubeVu and Latitude to negotiate a substantial refund from the carrier. That company realized ROI for the implementation in just a couple of months!

Other benefits of more accurate dimensioning include the ability to:

  • Store dimension data and pictures for each SKU in Latitude WMS master files to check insurance claims
  • Reorganize the warehouse more efficiently by dimensioning all incoming items
  • Use size data for better-informed negotiations with carriers
  • Cut picking and packing times by picking directly into the correct size box

Watch this video about one of our joint success stories with PathGuide and Cascade Orthopedic to see QubeVu in action and hear how it integrated with Latitude WMS: http://resources.pathguide.com/h/i/258241248-qubevus-cascade-pathguide-story

To learn more about QubeVu, you can reach me at kim.karvonen@postea.com.


Author:  Kim Karvonen, Sales Manager | Postea

 

 

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!