Tag Archives: increased warehouse productivity

Hope Is Not a Strategy When Deciding Which WMS is Right for Your Warehouse or DC

If your warehouse isn’t making you money, it’s costing you money.

Can something as simple as WMS software really help transform your warehouse to a profit center? It can, and it does. You have many options, but finding the right system is where the waters start to muddy. Why? Because it also means picking a partner with a solid track record that also sees the value in building a strong relationship, all while offering software that can scale the same way your business will.

Take a close look at your warehouse or DC. Is there an opportunity to shrink the cost of doing business? When it comes to warehouse operations, the pressure to sharpen your productivity to keep your customer’s experience and expectations at the highest level is a daily test – a test your competitor might be passing with flying colors.

Here are four ways the right WMS will provide vast benefit to your bottom line and operations:

1) Receiving, storage and inventory management. You need the ability to track and manage resources within your warehouse. Manual and paper-based systems won’t cut it. If you’ve ever done a manual cycle count using a pen and clipboard, then you’ll appreciate how time-consuming, disruptive and erroneous the task is.

2) Better shipping and outbound processes. As items get ready for shipping, a WMS has features that can improve the packing, staging and loading processes. The best WMS solutions integrate with ERP systems. A WMS can help reduce transportation costs by automating the choice of carriers based on the shipment – a big relief for warehouses already experiencing growth in the number of smaller, individual parcels attributed to our friend, e-Commerce.

3) Streamlining inbound transportation. We like whiteboards and Excel spreadsheets as much as the next guy, but they aren’t great tools when it comes to managing inbound transportation. A WMS that automates all operations, from ITM receiving and order picking, to manifesting and truck route/stop management with delivery confirmation translates to gains, including the ability to plan staffing levels and assign equipment when and where it’s needed.

4) Reducing training time while increasing labor visibility. The examples above make sense when it comes to inventory management, shipping and inbound transportation, but what about employee training and performance metrics? What if we told you that integrated RF scanners can reduce training time from two weeks to one day? This is especially important for warehouses with high turnover rates due to seasonality.

If your warehouse or bottom line keeps you up at night, now’s the time to step up to Latitude WMS. Contact us to learn what other users experienced before, during and after deploying Latitude WMS.

Top 5 Reasons to Register!

Come with questions. Leave with answers.

REASON #1: Going, going, gone!

Borrow money from a pessimist if you have to. He won’t expect it back. You only have through July 21 to take advantage of discounted registration rates.

REASON #2: Like-minded people will be there.

Actually, the criteria for other like-minded people is different for everyone. But, as a Latitude product user, whether your learning style is hands-on, one-on-one consulting, through user-led panels or product demos – the folks at PathGuide have you covered.

REASON #3: Location, location, location.

Never mind that our state flower is mildew, this year’s venue screams Pacific Northwest. Cedarbrook Lodge is conveniently 5 minutes from the airport and sits on 11 lush acres, all privately surrounded by beautifully restored wetlands.

REASON #4: A smorgasbord of stimulants.

We can name 3 without even thinking about it: keynote, coffee and magician. Because you deserve better than ordinary.

REASON #5: Record-breaking attendance.

Last year’s attendance numbers were the highest we’ve seen. Go on, register today and be the difference that contributes to the overall vibe of this fantastic event!

Registration Opens Today for PathGuide’s Latitude User Conference!

A Conference That Truly Pays Professional Development Dividends

Today marks the opening of early bird registration for PathGuide’s Latitude User Conference. Join us at the Cedarbrook Lodge in Seattle this September 10-12.

This fun, yet education-focused event, offers any conference attendee full access to PathGuide engineers and Latitude power users. We specifically design each LUC around brand new users, warehouse managers and staff, C-level executives, IT professionals, and prospective clients.

So, why will attendees (regardless of their level of user experience) be impressed by our agenda? Because a good chunk of the content ideas come from Latitude product users. PathGuide understands that a conference agenda and its content can be the deciding factor when it comes to clicking the registration button or passing on the invite altogether.

The ever-popular one-on-one training sessions, educational panels and networking opportunities with other product peers is what really sets PathGuide’s Latitude User Conference apart. And, you can count on the breakout training sessions and hands-on training to cover the latest insights as we illustrate the things on PathGuide’s horizon.

Finally, this year’s General Session Keynote Address is sure to impress. Bill Eckstrom’s “Getting Comfortable With Discomfort” will open your eyes to how dangerous it can be to remain in the state of comfort. You’ll be amazed at the outcomes that discomfort can have on your life, and the lives of others. Come learn why Bill’s personal and professional development ideas are essential to growth.

Early registration discounts are available now through July 21, 2017, but don’t wait. Reserve your spot soon. Remember, bring more – save more!

More information about the 2017 Latitude User Conference can be found here.

Tompkins Industries, Inc.

Customer Spotlight: Tompkins Canada

Looking at You, Tompkins Canada

Customer Spotlight

We have the pleasure of introducing Tompkins Canada, part of the Tompkins Industries family of distributors for hydraulic adapters and fluid power products. Established in 1967, Tompkins Industries has built a strong reputation and loyal customer base thanks to its commitment to exceptional quality and outstanding customer service. In the five decades since it first opened its doors, Tompkins has expanded to 11 locations in the US, with one location in Mississauga, Ontario.

Tompkins offers several services that set it apart from the pack. Not least of these is its same-day shipping guarantee from any of its distribution centers. In addition, Tompkins promises competitive pricing and one of the largest in-stock inventories in the industry, with over 8,000 combinations of hydraulic adapters.

Tompkins knows that when a production line grinds to a halt due to a hydraulic adapter or fitting failure, getting replacement parts as soon as possible can directly reduce downtime. That’s why customers have grown to depend on Tompkins’ fast shipping and 98% fill rate on standard catalog items.

Latitude WMS

“PathGuide’s WMS allows us to grow our business and increase our bottom line without adding bodies in the warehouse,” said Sean McGuinness, general manager of Tompkins Canada. “We are confident that this partnership with PathGuide will help us further support and provide our customers with exceptional service through continuous improvements of warehouse efficiencies.”

Tompkins is just one of PathGuide’s Canadian customers, a roster that includes companies such Chalifour Canada, E.B. Horsman & Son, Red-L Distributors Ltd., and Thomas Skinner & Son Ltd. Latitude has helped these companies improve accuracy, speed and efficiency, provide better customer service, lower labor costs and ultimately increase their revenues. For Tompkins, this ensures that the company can stick to its mission of providing customers with quality parts and service that is second to none.

More Information

For more information about Tompkins and its Mississauga location, visit the company’s website. More information about Latitude WMS can be found here.

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.

Customer Spotlight: Red-L Distributors

Customer Spotlight

Red-L Distributors has built its business by providing customers with quality products, great product selection, added value, and personal service. Based near Edmonton in Alberta, the company has been supplying Canada’s oilfield, agricultural, transportation, construction, mining, and forestry industries since 1961. Today the company offers a diversified range of products from hydraulic, industrial, and high pressure hoses and fittings to lubricants, bowie pumps, and diesel engine oil, all from its 12 locations in Alberta and British Columbia.

Why Latitude?

Red-L first implemented PathGuide’s Latitude WMS in 2007 for its advanced features and compatibility with their ERP system. As it rolled out Latitude WMS, the company was able to transform its warehouse into a cleaner, safer and much more efficient workplace by reorganizing its operations and taking full advantage of the enhanced layout and workflow. Following this successful deployment, in 2011 Red-L began using Latitude’s Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) functionality to help its clients efficiently maintain stock levels and independently manage replenishment orders. Red-L had found traditional forms of vendor-managed inventory replenishment problematic because they were generally slow and prone to human error, resulting in increased travel time for Red-L’s sales team and lengthy replenishment cycles.

VMI orders are processed by Latitude and imported directly into Red-L’s ERP. The process is not only very efficient, it also saves a significant amount of time and reduces the likelihood of input errors. This has given Red-L a competitive advantage, and greatly reduced the burden on Red-L’s clients. In fact, 40 of Red-L’s clients now use VMI to handle product replenishment, averaging an 80 percent improvement in turnaround times.

More Information

To learn more about Red-L, visit their website at: http://www.redl.com/. More information about Latitude WMS can be found here: http://www.pathguide.com/Solutions.aspx.

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Managing eCommerce Fulfillment

For today’s Latitude Tips and Tricks, we’ll walk through how you can use Latitude WMS and the Latitude Manifest & Shipping System (LMS) to manage eCommerce fulfillment orders seamlessly and automatically. LMS provides two primary methods for fulfilling eCommerce orders with Latitude integration: Shipper Account Profile and Third Party Billing. Both options can support direct-to-customer and direct-to-store order types.

Shipper Account Profile

An LMS Account Profile is created for the fulfillment account. The orders are seamlessly processed through the LMS Account Profile, through Customer or Carrier configurations in Latitude, to automatically link the order to the fulfillment account.

Create a Dedicated Account Profile: In LMS, create a separate Account Profile that will be configured with the Fulfillment Shipper’s account information. Go to the LMS Management Console, then select Account ProfilesMoreAdd an Account Profile. Configure the account information, and use the Label Address tab to fill in the desired “from” information for the outbound labels. You may also optionally add a logo to the profile, for use on 8” label formats. Use the Functions menu to customize the label with Add Company Logo, and browse to the appropriate image file.

Setting Up a Carrier Override to the Account: In Latitude, you can use the Carrier maintenance screen to set the Override Shipper value on the LMS-mapped Carrier so that it matches the new fulfillment shipper account profile.

Setting Up a Customer Override to the Account: Another option is to set up a Customer record, and configure it to always map to the new account profile using the Fixed Shipper property. Enable the Use as Label From Address checkbox for correct label formatting, if needed.

Then, when a new order is imported for the linked carrier or customer, and opened in LMS for shipping, the station console will automatically select the linked account profile for the shipment. The profile From Address is also used as the label return address for this profile.

Third Party Billing

The Latitude Order is imported as Third Party Billing order type, and uses the Freight Account property on the order to save the proper account number. When the order is shipped, the shipment automatically bills to the fulfillment account number.

Configure Ship-From Address on Customer Record: Configure the Third Party Address on the Latitude Customer maintenance screen, and check the Use as Label From Address to display the correct label information.

Order Import Properties: On the Sales Order, the order must be imported with Third Party Billing, while using the Customer Freight Account field to import the correct account number.

Third Party Accessorials: When the order is processed in LMS, the Third Party accessorial will display the configured “from” address and customer account number from the imported order.

To use the new Latitude tracking detail to launch package information, you simply go into the Tracking tab in the Review Sales Order screen and click the tracking number.  If you just want to view the label, you click on the Forms tab and then drill down.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks post, and check our Content Marketing Hub for videos, photos and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature or there’s a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Production Order Web Screens

Here’s a new feature in Latitude WMS that’s designed to help manufacturing customers track production orders for custom-made components that are assembled or created in the warehouse.

In past versions of Latitude, the user needed to dive into two or three separate screens to get information on a production order. But, not anymore.

Our new Production Receipts web screen answers all of the most common questions, such as:

  • How much of this item have we made?
  • What components have we used?
  • What do we need to make more of?
  • How much more can we make (from the parts that we have)?
  • Which employee made it?
  • Where’d they put it?

To view a production receipt, go to Activities – Production Orders – Production Receipts and enter the production order number. On the “Line Items” tab, the first ten columns from “LINE” to “QTY PER” will give you information on component usage, and the last five columns from “ASSEMBLY ITEM” to “RECV NOW” will show information about the finished product. “RECV NOW” provides the number of items that could be received now based on current component usage and “MAX SHIP” gives the maximum number of components that could be shipped now based on picked quantity. Red text on the screen means that that quantity is a “limiting factor” that is stopping the order from moving forward.

Next, by looking at the Receipt Destination tab, users will be able to view the receiving job number, location, date, time and user. The Audit tab shows all activities related to that particular production order for both components and finished goods. The Receipts and Quantity Used tabs should be self-explanatory.

Our goal with this new screen is to give Latitude WMS users better access to important information, making the process of manufacturing or assembling orders in-house more efficient.

Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks post, and check our Content Marketing Hub for videos, stories and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach our Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

 

Latitude Tips & Tricks: Flag Problems from the RF Terminal

Even the best-organized warehouses have occasional problems or messes on the warehouse floor. Things break, people make mistakes or the unexpected just happens. And when it does, someone needs to fix it without taking too much time away from their normal workday duties.

To make this process a little simpler, Latitude now allows you to flag any problems with bins, items, sales orders or purchase orders directly from an RF terminal. That way the person who discovers the problem can quickly make a note about the issue and add it to the Problem List without exiting their workflow or dropping everything to find a supervisor in person. Likewise, supervisors can view Problem Lists and get an accurate update on anything happening in the warehouse.

Setting this up takes a few steps. First, make sure that MARK Bin, Item, Sales Order and Purchase Order are in your TOOLS menu. They are included in the DEFAULT tool menu, but you may have moved them if you’ve customized your menu. Second, define your “Problem” reason code by going to Administration – Class Maintenance – Problems Reason Codes. Common reason codes are DAMAGED BIN, INCORRECT ITEM, INCORRECT QUANTITY, etc.

Now your employees can press F3 – Tools – Mark Item on their RF terminals, choose the appropriate problem reason code from the list that you defined, and scan the problem item. After scanning the item, you can also enter notes to explain the problem in more detail.

To review problems flagged this way, go into Latitude Web to Activities – Cycle Count – Problem Items. You can also review Purchase Orders and Sales Orders flagged as Problems under their respective Activities menu group. For problems with incorrect item quantity, click Functions – Generate Cycle Count Job to create a cycle counting job from this screen. Once a problem has been solved, click Functions-Flush All Records to remove an item from the list.

That’s all for this issue of Latitude Tips and Tricks. Keep an eye on this blog for the next Tips and Tricks, and check out our Content Marketing Hub for videos, photos and presentations from our customers and partners. As always, if you have a suggestion for a new Latitude WMS feature, or have a specific problem you’re trying to solve, you can reach any member of our Customer Support Team at 1-888-627-9797.

Interview with Douglas Hunter, chairman of PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB)

We recently spoke with Douglas Hunter, the newly elected chairman of PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB). Douglas is the operations manager at Eldorado Trading Company, and was the original implementation champion at Eldorado when Latitude WMS was first rolled out. He has been a part of the industry for many years, and shared some of his views and advice about getting the most out of Latitude.

PathGuide: What are some of the benefits or unique ways you use Latitude WMS?

Douglas: Latitude has provided a major improvement to our business in inventory management and in staff performance by increasing accountability and reducing manual steps. Previously, we used our ERP to manage all warehouse inventory operations, which did not give us data in real time or with much detail. Managing inventory and order processing was extremely labor-intensive due to the ERP’s inability to manage inventory in multiple locations, as well as the required time-consuming action of sorting and processing picks on paper.

The customization that we tend to describe as our “game changers” are the automation in order routing by customer type, carrier and FIFO, in a paperless pick environment. We can now manage inventory in real time in multiple locations, instead of our previous practice of using manual reference fields to know secondary or back-stock locations. The customization of the LMS Manifesting & Shipping System offered by PathGuide removed countless manual practices and allowed us to process more orders without adding additional stations or staff. Finally, the ability to add customized reports, alerts, and dashboards has helped us reduce email volume due to manual alerts, and has given us strong visibility down to the team or individual level for performance metrics.

PathGuide: Why did you join PathGuide’s Latitude Advisory Board (LAB)?

Douglas: For me, being a LAB member means having stronger insight into the growth of PathGuide’s products and vision plans. It also means having the ability to give feedback from an operational standpoint on areas in need of improvement or presenting ‘outside the box’ ideas that we identify in the day-to-day use of our WMS. The LAB gives power-users of Latitude the ability to brainstorm new concepts with PathGuide’s talented team, in order to continue enhancing an already great product.

PathGuide: What advice would you give to companies considering a WMS?

Douglas: Do an ROI plan with strategic growth goals and an analysis of your practices in order to identify the areas needing improvement. Far too often, the larger issues are obvious because they are the triggers for your organization’s search for a WMS in the first place. If you are struggling on where to start this analysis, review white papers on warehouse inefficiencies or visit a best-in-class facility to see processes that are stronger than those in your own operations. Examples of some areas to focus on are inventory accuracy, measuring productivity, pick path sequencing, and paper picking.

You should know what your company wants to achieve by adding a WMS to your operations. The benefits of adding Latitude WMS include warehousing visibility improvements and automation. From staff productivity visibility, real-time information on item storage in multiple locations, faster dock-to-stock in receiving, stronger order release control, a more accurate inventory, customizable manifesting features, or a product that will grow with your company, Latitude can enhance the capabilities of your business and increase your customer’s satisfaction through timely, accurate orders.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better customer service practice in any industry.